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Title: URVA and Local Mode Analysis of an Iridium Pincer Complex Efficiently Catalyzing the Hydrogenation of Carbon Dioxide
The catalytic effects of iridium pincer complexes for the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide were investigated with the Unified Reaction Valley Approach (URVA), exploring the reaction mechanism along the reaction path traced out by the reacting species on the potential energy surface. Further details were obtained with the Local Mode Analysis performed at all stationary points, complemented by the Natural Bond Orbital and Bader’s Quantum Atoms in Molecules analyses. Each of the five reaction paths forming the catalytic cycle were calculated at the DFT level complemented with DLPNO-CCSD(T) single point calculations at the stationary points. For comparison, the non-catalytic reaction was also investigated. URVA curvature profiles identified all important chemical events taking place in the non-catalyzed reaction and in the five reactions forming the catalytic cycle, and their contribution to the activation energy was disclosed. The non-catalytic reaction has a large unfavorable activation energy of 76.3 kcal/mol, predominately caused by HH bond cleave in the H2 reactant. As shown by our study, the main function of the iridium pincer catalyst is to split up the one–step non-catalytic reaction into an energy efficient multistep cycle, where HH bond cleavage is replaced by the cleavage of a weaker IrH bond with a small contribution to the activation energy. The dissociation of the final product from the catalyst requires the cleavage of an IrO bond, which is also weak, and contributes only to a minor extent to the activation energy. This, in summary, leads to the substantial lowering of the overall activation barrier by about 50 kcal/mol for the catalyzed reaction. We hope that this study inspires the community to add URVA to their repertoire for the investigation of catalysis reactions.  more » « less
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National Science Foundation
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