H2 Formation on Cosmic Grain Siliceous Surfaces Grafted with Fe+: A Silsesquioxanes-Based Computational Model


Cosmic siliceous dust grains are involved in the synthesis of H2 in the inter-stellar medium. In this work, the dust grain siliceous surface is represented by a hydrogen Fe-metalla-silsesquioxane model of general formula: [Fe(H7Si7O12−n)(OH)n]+ (n=0,1,2) where Fe+ behaves like a single-site heterogeneous catalyst grafted on a siliceous surface synthesizing H2 from H. A computational analysis is performed using two levels of theory (B3LYP-D3BJ and MP2-F12) to quantify the thermodynamic driving force of the reaction: [Fe-T7H7]++4H→[Fe-T7H7(OH)2]++H2. The general outcomes are: 1) H2 synthesis is thermodynamically strongly favored; 2) Fe-H / Fe-H2 barrier-less formation potential; 3) chemisorbed H-Fe leads to facile H2 synthesis at 20≤T≤100 K; 4) relative spin energetics and thermodynamic quantities between the B3LYP-D3BJ and MP2-F12 levels of theory are in qualitative agreement. The metalla-silsesquioxane model shows how Fe+ fixed on a siliceous surface can potentially catalyze H2 formation in space.

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