Physical Chemistry

Unveiling the Coexistence of Cis and Trans Isomers in the Hydrolysis of ZrO2: A Coupled DFT and High-Resolution Photoelectron Spectroscopy Study



High-resolution anion photoelectron spectroscopy of the ZrO3H2- and ZrO3D2- anions and complementary electronic structure calculations are used to investigate the reaction between zirconium dioxide and a single water molecule, ZrO20/- + H2O. Experimental spectra of ZrO3H2- and ZrO3D2- were obtained using slow photoelectron velocity-map imaging (cryo-SEVI), revealing the presence of two dissociative adduct conformers and yielding insight into the vibronic structure of the corresponding neutral species. Franck-Condon simulations for both the \textit{cis}-- and \textit{trans}--dihydroxide structures are required to fully reproduce the experimental spectrum. Additionally, it was found that water-splitting is stabilized more by ZrO2 than TiO2, suggesting Zr-based catalysts are more reactive toward hydrolysis.

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