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J Phys Chem A. 2013 Dec 12;117(49):13039-50. doi: 10.1021/jp406982h. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Equilibrium and rate constants, and reaction mechanism of the HF dissociation in the HF(H2O)7 cluster by ab initio rare event simulations.

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  • 1School of Physics, Room 302 UCD-EMSC, University College Dublin , Belfield, Dublin 4, Dublin, Ireland.


We perform restrained hybrid Monte Carlo (MC) simulations to compute the equilibrium constant of the dissociation reaction of HF in HF(H2O)7. We find that the HF is a stronger acid in the cluster than in the bulk, and its acidity is higher at lower T. The latter phenomenon has a vibrational entropic origin, resulting from a counterintuitive balance of intra- and intermolecular terms. We find also a temperature dependence of the reactions mechanism. At low T (≤225 K) the dissociation reaction follows a concerted path, with the H atoms belonging to the relevant hydrogen bond chain moving synchronously. At higher T (300 K), the first two hydrogen atoms move together, forming an intermediate metastable state having the structure of an eigen ion (H9O4(+)), and then the third hydrogen migrates completing the reaction. We also compute the dissociation rate constant, kRP. At very low T (≤75 K) kRP depends strongly on the temperature, whereas it gets almost constant at higher T’s. With respect to the bulk, the HF dissociation in the HF(H2O)7 is about 1 order of magnitude faster. This is due to a lower free energy barrier for the dissociation in the cluster.

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