First-principles investigation of the dissociation and coupling of methane on small copper clusters : interplay of collision dynamics and geometric and electronic effects
Varghese, Jithin John
Mushrif, Samir Hemant
Date of Issue2015
School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
Small metal clusters exhibit unique size and morphology dependent catalytic activity. The search for alternate minimum energy pathways and catalysts to transform methane to more useful chemicals and carbon nanomaterials led us to investigate collision induced dissociation of methane on small Cu clusters. We report here for the first time, the free energy barriers for the collision induced activation, dissociation, and coupling of methane on small Cu clusters (Cu n where n = 2–12) using ab initio molecular dynamics and metadynamics simulations. The collision induced activation of the stretching and bending vibrations of methane significantly reduces the free energy barrier for its dissociation. Increase in the cluster size reduces the barrier for dissociation of methane due to the corresponding increase in delocalisation of electron density within the cluster, as demonstrated using the electron localisation function topology analysis. This enables higher probability of favourable alignment of the C–H stretching vibration of methane towards regions of high electron density within the cluster and makes higher number of sites available for the chemisorption of CH3 and H upon dissociation. These characteristics contribute in lowering the barrier for dissociation of methane. Distortion and reorganisation of cluster geometry due to high temperature collision dynamics disturb electron delocalisation within them and increase the barrier for dissociation. Coupling reactions of CH x (x = 1–3) species and recombination of H with CH x have free energy barriers significantly lower than complete dehydrogenation of methane to carbon. Thus, competition favours the former reactions at high hydrogen saturation on the clusters.
The journal of chemical physics
© 2015 AIP Publishing LLC. This paper was published in The Journal of Chemical Physics and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of AIP Publishing LLC. The paper can be found at the following official DOI: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4919948]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.