Theoretical study of electron, proton, and proton-coupled electron transfer in iron bi-imidazoline complexes

N. Iordanova, H. Decornez, S. Hammes-Schiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A comparative theoretical investigation of single electron transfer (ET), single proton transfer (PT), and proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) reactions in iron bi-imidazoline complexes is presented. These calculations are motivated by experimental studies showing that the rates of ET and PCET are similar and are both slower than the rate of PT for these systems (Roth, J. P.; Lovel, S.; Mayer, J. M. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2000, 122, 5486). The theoretical calculations are based on a multistate continuum theory, in which the solute is described by a multistate valence bond model, the transferring hydrogen nucleus is treated quantum mechanically, and the solvent is represented as a dielectric continuum. For electronically nonadiabatic electron' transfer, the rate expressions for ET and PCET depend on the inner-sphere (solute) and outer-sphere (solvent) reorganization energies and on the electronic coupling, which is averaged over the reactant and product proton vibrational wave functions for PCET. The small overlap of the proton vibrational wave functions localized on opposite sides of the proton transfer interface decreases the coupling for PCET relative to ET. The theory accurately reproduces the experimentally measured rates and deuterium kinetic isotope effects for ET and PCET. The calculations indicate that the similarity of the rates for ET and PCET is due mainly to the compensation of the smaller outer-sphere solvent reorganization energy for PCET by the larger coupling for ET. The moderate kinetic isotope effect for PCET arises from the relatively short proton transfer distance. The PT reaction is found to be dominated by solute reorganization (with very small solvent reorganization energy) and to be electronically adiabatic, leading to a fundamentally different mechanism that accounts for the faster rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3723-3733
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number16
StatePublished - Oct 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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