Current theoretical challenges in proton-coupled electron transfer: Electron-proton nonadiabaticity, proton relays, and ultrafast dynamics

Sharon Hammes-Schiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) reactions play an important role in a wide range of biological and chemical processes. The motions of the electrons, transferring protons, solute nuclei, and solvent nuclei occur on a wide range of time scales and are often strongly coupled. As a result, the theoretical description of these processes requires a combination of quantum and classical methods. This Perspective discusses three of the current theoretical challenges in the field of PCET. The first challenge is the calculation of electron-proton nonadiabatic effects, which are significant for these reactions because the hydrogen tunneling is often faster than the electronic transition. The second challenge is the modeling of electron transfer coupled to proton transport along hydrogen-bonded networks. The third challenge is the simulation of the ultrafast dynamics of nonequilibrium photoinduced PCET reactions in solution. Insights provided by theoretical studies may assist in the design of more effective catalysts for energy conversion processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1410-1416
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 16 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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