Ab initio molecular dynamics simulations of the oxygen reduction reaction on a Pt(111) surface in the presence of hydrated hydronium (H3O)(+)(H2O)2: direct or series pathway?

J Phys Chem B. 2005 Aug 11;109(31):14896-907. doi: 10.1021/jp050241z.


Car-Parrinello molecular dynamics simulations have been performed to investigate the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) on a Pt(111) surface at 350 K. By progressive loading of (H3O)(+)(H2O)(2,3) + e- into a simulation cell containing a Pt slab and O2 for the first reduction step, and either products or intermediate species for the subsequent reduction steps, the detailed mechanisms of the ORR are well illustrated via monitoring MD trajectories and analyzing Kohn-Sham electronic energies. A proton transfer is found to be involved in the first reduction step; depending on the initial proton-oxygen distance, on the degree of proton hydration, and on the surface charge, such transfer may take place either earlier or later than the O2 chemisorption, in all cases forming an adsorbed end-on complex H-O-O*. Decomposition of H-O-O* takes place with a rather small barrier, after a short lifetime of approximately 0.15 ps, yielding coadsorbed oxygen and hydroxyl (O + HO*). Formation of the one-end adsorbed hydrogen peroxide, HOO*H, is observed via the reduction of H-O-O*, which suggests that the ORR may also proceed via HOO*H, i.e., a series pathway. However, HOO*H readily dissociates homolytically into two coadsorbed hydroxyls (HO* + HO*) rather than forming a dual adsorbed HOOH. Along the direct pathway, the reduction of H-O* + O* yields two possible products, O* + H2O* and HO* + HO*. Of the three intermediates from the second electron-transfer step, HOO*H from the series pathway has the highest energy, followed by O* + H2O* and HO* + HO* from the direct pathway. It is therefore theoretically validated that the O2 reduction on a Pt surface may proceed via a parallel pathway, the direct and series occurring simultaneously, with the direct as the dominant step.