The Effect of Hartree-Fock Exchange on Scaling Relations and Reaction Energetics for C–H Activation Catalysts

11 June 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


High-throughput computational catalyst studies are typically carried out using density functional theory (DFT) with a single, approximate exchange-correlation functional. In open shell transition metal complexes (TMCs) that are promising for challenging reactions (e.g., C–H activation), the predictive power of DFT has been challenged, and properties are known to be strongly dependent on the admixture of Hartree-Fock (HF) exchange. We carry out a large-scale study of the effect of HF exchange on the predicted catalytic properties of over 1,200 mid-row (i.e., Cr, Mn, Fe, Co) 3d TMCs for direct methane-to-methanol conversion. Reaction energetic sensitivities across this set depend both on the catalytic rearrangement and ligand chemistry of the catalyst. These differences in sensitivities change both the absolute energetics predicted for a catalyst and its relative performance. Previous observations of the poor performance of global linear free energy relationships (LFERs) hold with both semi-local DFT widely employed in heterogeneous catalysis and hybrid DFT. Narrower metal/oxidation/spin-state specific LFERs perform better and are less sensitive to HF exchange than absolute reaction energetics, except in the case of some intermediate/high-spin states. Importantly, the interplay between spin-state dependent reaction energetics and exchange effects on spin-state ordering means that the choice of DFT functional strongly influences whether the minimum energy pathway is spin-conserved. Despite these caveats, LFERs involving catalysts that can be expected to have closed shell intermediates and low-spin ground states retain significant predictive power.


scaling relations
density functional theory
computational catalysis

Supplementary materials

SI HFX-HTS v3 sm


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