Theoretical and Computational Chemistry

Investigating Tunneling Controlled Chemical Reactions Through Ab-Initio Ring Polymer Molecular Dynamics

Pengfei Huo University of Rochester


We use the ab-initio ring polymer molecular dynamics (RPMD) approach to investigate tunneling controlled reactions in methylhydroxycarbene. Nuclear tunneling effects enable molecules to overcome the barriers which can not be overcome classically. Under low-temperature conditions, intrinsic quantum tunneling effects canfacilitate the chemical reaction in a pathway that is neither favored thermodynamically nor kinetically. This
behavior is referred to as the tunneling controlled chemical reaction and regarded as the third paradigm of chemical
reaction controls. In this work, we use the ab-initio RPMD approach to incorporate the tunneling effects in our quantum dynamics simulations. The reaction kinetics of two competitive reaction pathways at various temperatures are investigated with the Kohn-Sham density functional theory (KS-DFT) on-the-fly molecular dynamics simulations and the ring polymer quantization of the nuclei. The reaction rate constants obtained here agree extremely well with the experimentally measured rates. We demonstrate the feasibility of using ab-initio RPMD rate calculations in a realistic molecular system, and provide an interesting and important example for future investigations on reaction mechanisms dominated by quantum tunneling effects.


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