Origin of the Energy Barrier to Chemical Reactions of O2 on Al(111): Evidence for Charge Transfer, Not Spin Selection
PRINCETON UNIV NJ
Pagination or Media Count:
Dissociative adsorption of molecular oxygen on the Al111 surface exhibits mechanistic complexity that remains surprisingly poorly understood in terms of the underlying physics. Experiments clearly indicate substantial energy barriers and a mysteriously large number of adsorbed single oxygen atoms instead of pairs. Conventional first principles quantum mechanics density functional theory predicts no energy barrier at all instead, spin selection rules have been invoked to explain the barrier. In this Letter, we show that correct barriers arise naturally when embedded correlated electron wave functions are used to capture the physics of the interaction of O2 with the metal surface. The barrier originates from an abrupt charge transfer from metal to oxygen, which is properly treated within correlated wave function theory but not within conventional density functional theory. Our potential energy surfaces also identify oxygen atom abstraction as the dominant reaction pathway at low incident energies, consistent with measurements, and show that charge transfer occurs in a stepwise fashion.
- Physical Chemistry
- Electricity and Magnetism