Authors: Mitrushchenkov, Akexander O. O.; de Lara-Castells, Maria Pilar


Publication date: 2023/08/15

DOI: 10.1002/cphc.202300317

Abstract: Novel highly selective synthesis techniques have enable the production of atomically precise monodisperse metal clusters (AMCs) of subnanometer size. These AMCs exhibit ‘molecule-like’ structures that have distinct physical and chemical properties, significantly different from those of nanoparticles and bulk material. In this work, we study copper pentamer Cu-5 clusters as model AMCs by applying both density functional theory (DFT) and high-level (wave-function-based) ab initio methods, including those which are capable of accounting for the multi-state multi-reference character of the wavefunction at the conical intersection (CI) between different electronic states and augmenting the electronic basis set till achieving well-converged energy values and structures. After assessing the accuracy of a high-level multi-multireference ab initio protocol for the well-known Cu-3 case, we apply it to demonstrate that bypiramidal Cu-5 clusters are distorted Jahn-Teller (JT) molecules. The method is further used to evaluate the accuracy of single-reference approaches, finding that the coupled cluster singles and doubles and perturbative triples CCSD(T) method delivers the results closer to our ab initio predictions and that dispersion-corrected DFT can outperform the CCSD method. Finally, we discuss how JT effects and, more generally, conical intersections, are intimately connected to the fluxionality of AMCs, giving them a ‘floppy’ character that ultimately facilitates their interaction with environmental molecules and thus enhances their functioning as catalysts.