Density functional theory (DFT) calculations of cyanate (OCN-) charge-transfer complexes were performed to model the "XCN" feature observed in interstellar icy grain mantles. OCN- charge-transfer complexes were formed from precursor combinations of HNCO or HOCN with either NH3 or H2O. Three different solvation strategies for realistically modeling the ice matrix environment were explored, including (1) continuum solvation, (2) pure DFT cluster calculations, and (3) an ONIOM DFT/PM3 cluster calculation. The model complexes were evaluated by their ability to reproduce seven spectroscopic measurements associated with XCN: the band origin of the OCN- asymmetric stretching mode, shifts in that frequency due to isotopic substitutions of C, N, O, and H, plus two weak features. The continuum solvent field method produced results consistent with some of the experimental data but failed to account for other behavior due to its limited capacity to describe molecular interactions with solvent. DFT cluster calculations successfully reproduced the available spectroscopic measurements very well. In particular, the deuterium shift showed excellent agreement in complexes where OCN- was fully solvated. Detailed studies of representative complexes including from two to twelve water molecules allowed the exploration of various possible solvation structures and provided insights into solvation trends. Moreover, complexes arising from cyanic or isocyanic acid in pure water suggested an alternative mechanism for the formation of OCN - charge-transfer complexes without the need for a strong base such as NH3 to be present. An extended ONIOM (B3LYP/PM3) cluster calculation was also performed to assess the impact of a more realistic environment on HNCO dissociation in pure water.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry