skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Significant Quantum Effects in Hydrogen Activation

Dissociation of molecular hydrogen is an important step in a wide variety of chemical, biological, and physical processes. Due to the light mass of hydrogen, it is recognized that quantum effects are often important to its reactivity. However, understanding how quantum effects impact the reactivity of hydrogen is still in its infancy. Here, we examine this issue using a well-defined Pd/Cu(111) alloy that allows the activation of hydrogen and deuterium molecules to be examined at individual Pd atom surface sites over a wide range of temperatures. Experiments comparing the uptake of hydrogen and deuterium as a function of temperature reveal completely different behavior of the two species. The rate of hydrogen activation increases at lower sample temperature, whereas deuterium activation slows as the temperature is lowered. Density functional theory simulations in which quantum nuclear effects are accounted for reveal that tunneling through the dissociation barrier is prevalent for H2 up to 190 K and for D2 up to 140 K. Kinetic Monte Carlo simulations indicate that the effective barrier to H2 dissociation is so low that hydrogen uptake on the surface is limited merely by thermodynamics, whereas the D2 dissociation process is controlled by kinetics. These data illustrate the complexitymore » and inherent quantum nature of this ubiquitous and seemingly simple chemical process. Examining these effects in other systems with a similar range of approaches may uncover temperature regimes where quantum effects can be harnessed, yielding greater control of bond-breaking processes at surfaces and uncovering useful chemistries such as selective bond activation or isotope separation.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [4] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [4]
  1. Tufts Univ., Medford, MA (United States); Univ. of Hull (United Kingdom)
  2. Univ. College London, Bloomsbury (United Kingdom)
  3. Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (United States)
  4. Tufts Univ., Medford, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: ACS Nano; Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 5
American Chemical Society
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
08 HYDROGEN quantum tunneling; hydrogen; activation; single-atom alloy; path integral density functional theory; kinetic Monte Carlo simulation