A recent experimental study [Houston, P. L.; Kable, S. H. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2006, 103, 16079] of the photodissociation of acetaldehyde (CH(3)CHO) has suggested two distinct mechanisms for the production of the molecular products CH(4) + CO. One corresponds to the traditional transition state mechanism and the other to a transition state-skirting path similar to the roaming channel previously reported in formaldehyde. To investigate this theoretically, a full-dimensional potential energy surface (PES) has been constructed. The PES was fit with permutationally invariant polynomials to 135,000 points calculated using coupled cluster theory with single and double excitations and a perturbative treatment of triple excitations [CCSD(T)] and correlation consistent basis sets of double- and triple-zeta quality. To test the accuracy of the PES additional CCSD(T) and multireference configuration interaction calculations were carried out. Quasiclassical trajectory calculations were run on the PES starting at the acetaldehyde equilibrium geometry and also at the conventional transition state (TS) for the molecular products CH(4) + CO. The former calculations agree well with the experimental results of Houston and Kable; however, those from the TS do not. The implications for a non-transition state, roaming mechanism in this molecule are discussed.
"The general relation between configuration space topology (distribution of saddles) and phase transitions is also of great current interest . Several examples of non-MEP or non- IRC reactions [45, 57–62] and 'roaming' mechanisms       have been identified in recent years; the dynamics of these reactions is not mediated by a single conventional transition state associated with an index 1 saddle. Higher index saddles can also become mechanistically important for structural transformations of atomic clusters  when the range of the pairwise potential is reduced . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We study the phase space geometry associated with index 2 saddles of a potential energy surface and its influence on reaction dynamics for $n$ degree-of-freedom (DoF) Hamiltonian systems. For index 1 saddles of potential energy surfaces (the case of classical transition state theory), the existence of a normally hyperbolic invariant manifold (NHIM) of saddle stability type has been shown, where the NHIM serves as the "anchor" for the construction of dividing surfaces having the no-recrossing property and minimal flux. For the index 1 saddle case the stable and unstable manifolds of the NHIM are co-dimension one in the energy surface, and act as conduits for reacting trajectories in phase space. The situation for index 2 saddles is quite different. We show that NHIMs with their stable and unstable manifolds still exist, but that these manifolds by themselves lack sufficient dimension to act as barriers in the energy surface. Rather, there are different types of invariant manifolds, containing the NHIM and its stable and unstable manifolds, that act as co-dimension one barriers in the energy surface. These barriers divide the energy surface in the vicinity of the index 2 saddle into regions of qualitatively different trajectories exhibiting a wider variety of dynamical behavior than for the case of index 1 saddles. In particular, we can identify a class of trajectories, which we refer to as "roaming trajectories", which are not associated with reaction along the classical minimum energy path (MEP). We illustrate the significance of our analysis of the index 2 saddle for reaction dynamics with two examples.
Journal of Physics A Mathematical and Theoretical 03/2009; 42(20). DOI:10.1088/1751-8113/42/20/205101 · 1.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In previous studies (West et al. in J Phys Chem A 113(45):12663, 2009; West et al. in Theor Chem Acc 131:1123, 2012), the lowest-lying O(3P) + C2H4 and singlet PES near the ·CH2CH2O· biradical were extensively explored at several levels of theory. In this work, the lowest-lying O(1D) + C2H4 PES is further examined at the multiconfigurational self-consistent field (MCSCF), MRMP2, CR-CC(2,3), GVB-PP, and MR-AQCC levels. This study aims to provide a detailed comparison of these different levels of theory for this particular system. In particular, many reactions for this system involve multiple bond rearrangements and require various degrees of both non-dynamic and dynamic correlation for reasonable energetics. As a result of this variety, coupled cluster results parallel but do not always match up with multireference results as previously anticipated. In the case of the CH2CHOH → oxirane pathway, MCSCF results show the possibility of a two-step mechanism rather than an elementary step, but the case is very difficult to elucidate. In the case of the CH3C:–OH → H2CCO + H2 pathway, a non-traditional NEB MEP at the GVB-PP level and MR-AQCC stationary point determination illustrate the need for a complex treatment of this surface.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The focus of this study is to understand the multiconfigurational nature of the biradical species involved in the early reaction paths of the oxygen plus ethylene PES. In previous work (J Phys Chem A 113, 12663, 2009), the lowest-lying O(3P) + C2H4 PES was extensively explored at the MCSCF, MRMP2, and MR-AQCC levels of theory. In the current work, ground and excited, triplet- and singlet-state reaction paths for the initial addition of oxygen to ethylene were found at the MCSCF and MRMP2 levels along with five singlet pathways near the ·CH2CH2O· biradical at the MCSCF, MRMP2, and CR-CC(2,3) levels. One of these five paths can lead to the CH2CO + H2 products from CH3CHO rather than from the ·CH2CH2O· biradical, and this pathway was investigated with a variety of CAS sizes. To provide further comparison between the MRMP2 and CR-CC(2,3) levels, MR-AQCC single-point energies and optimizations were performed for select geometries. After the initial exploration of this region of the surface, the lowest singlet–triplet surface crossings were explicitly determined at the MCSCF level. Additional MRMP2 calculations were performed to demonstrate the limitations of single-state perturbation theory in this biradical region of the PES, and SO-MCQDPT2 single-point energies using SA MCSCF were calculated on a grid of geometries around the primary surface crossing. In particular, these calculations were examined to determine a proper active space and a physically reasonable number of electronic states. The results of this examination show that at least four states must be considered to represent this very complex region of the PES.
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