A phase diagram for energy flow-limited reactivity

Chenghao Zhang, Edwin L. Sibert, Martin Gruebele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intramolecular energy flow (also known as intramolecular vibrational redistribution or IVR) isoften assumed in Rice-Ramsperger-Kassel-Marcus, transition state, collisional energy transfer, and other rate calculations not to be an impediment to reaction. In contrast, experimental spectroscopy, computational results, and models based on Anderson localization have shown that ergodicity is achieved rather slowly during molecular energy flow. The statistical assumption in rate theories might easily fail due to quantum localization. Here, we develop a simple model for the interplay of IVRand energy transfer and simulate the model with near-exact quantum dynamics for a 10-degree of freedom system composed of two five-mode molecular fragments. The calculations are facilitated by applying the van Vleck transformation to local random matrix models of the vibrational Hamiltonian. We find that there is a rather sharp "phase transition"as a function of molecular anharmonicity "a"between a region of facile energy transfer and a region limited by IVR and incomplete accessibility of the state space (classically, the phase space). The very narrow transition range of the order parameter a happens to lie right in the middle of the range expected for moleculartorsion, bending, and stretching vibrations, thus demonstrating that reactive energy transfer dynamics several kBT above the thermal energy occurs not far from the localization boundary, with implications for controllability of reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104301
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 14 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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