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Decisive role of nuclear quantum effects on surface mediated water dissociation at finite temperature


Litman,  Yair
Theory, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

Rossi,  Mariana
Theory, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Litman, Y., Donadio, D., Ceriotti, M., & Rossi, M. (2018). Decisive role of nuclear quantum effects on surface mediated water dissociation at finite temperature. The Journal of Chemical Physics, 148(10): 102320. doi:10.1063/1.5002537.

Water molecules adsorbed on inorganic substrates play an important role in several technological applications. In the presence of light atoms in adsorbates, nuclear quantum effects (NQE) influence properties of these systems. In this work, we explore the impact of NQE on the dissociation of water wires on stepped Pt(221) surfaces. By performing ab initio molecular dynamics simulations with van der Waals corrected density functional theory, we note that several competing minima for both intact and dissociated structures are accessible at finite temperatures, making it important to assess whether harmonic estimates of the quantum free energy are sufficient to determine the relative stability of the different states. We perform ab initio path integral molecular dynamics (PIMD) in order to calculate these contributions taking into account conformational entropy and anharmonicities at finite temperatures. We propose that when when adsorption is weak and NQE on the substrate are negligible, PIMD simulations can be performed through a simple partition of the system, resulting in considerable computational savings. We calculate the contribution of NQE to the free energies, including anharmonic terms. We find that they result in an increase of up to 20% of the quantum contribution to the dissociation free energy compared to harmonic estimates. We also find that the dissociation has a negligible contribution from tunneling, but is dominated by ZPE, which can enhance the rate by three orders of magnitude. Finally we highlight how both temperature and NQE indirectly impact dipoles and the redistribution of electron density, causing work function to changes of up to 0.4 eV with respect to static estimates. This quantitative determination of the change in work function provides a possible approach to determine experimentally the most stable configurations of water oligomers on the stepped surfaces.