Authors: Mitrushchenkov, Alexander O.; Zanchet, Alexandre; Hauser, Andreas W.; de Lara-Castells, Maria Pilar


Publication date: 2021/10/21

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.1c07271

Abstract: The electronic structure of subnanometric clusters, far off the bulk regime, is still dominated by molecular characteristics. The spatial arrangement of the notoriously undercoordinated metal atoms is strongly coupled to the electronic properties of the system, which makes this class of materials particularly interesting for applications including luminescence, sensing, bioimaging, theranostics, energy conversion, catalysis, and photocatalysis. Opposing a common rule of thumb that assumes an increasing chemical reactivity with smaller cluster size, Cu-5 clusters have proven to be exceptionally resistant to irreversible oxidation, i.e., the dissociative chemisorption of molecular oxygen. Besides providing reasons for this behavior in the case of heavy loading with molecular oxygen, we investigate the competition between physisorption and molecular chemisorption from the perspective of nonadiabatic effects. Landau-Zener theory is applied to the Cu-5(O-2)(3) complex to estimate the probability for a switching between the electronic states correlating the neutral O-2+ Cus(O-2)(2) and the ionic O-2(-) + (Cu-5(O-2)(2))(+) fragments in a diabatic representation. Our work demonstrates the involvement of strong nonadiabatic effects in the associated charge transfer process, which might be a common motive in reactions involving subnanometric metal structures.