The Fe-IV-O center dot oxyl unit as a key intermediate in water oxidation on the Fe-III-hydroxide: DFT predictions

Shubin, Aleksandr A.; Kovalskii, Viktor Yu.; Ruzankin, Sergey Ph.; Zilberberg, Igor L.; Parmon, Valentin N.; et al. International Journal Of Quantum Chemistry. DOI: 10.1002/qua.26610

The O-O coupling process in water oxidation on the gamma FeOOH hydroxide catalyst is simulated by means of density functional theory using model iron cubane cluster Fe4O4(OH)(4). A key reactive intermediate is proposed to be the HO-Fe-IV-O center dot oxyl unit with terminal oxo radical. The "initial" vertex Fe-III(OH) moiety forms this intermediate at the calculated overpotential of 0.93 V by adding one water molecule and withdrawing two proton-electron pairs. The O-O coupling goes via water nucleophilic attack on the oxyl oxygen to form the O-O bond with a remarkably low barrier of 11 kcal/mol. This process is far more effective than alternative scenario based on direct interaction of two ferryl Fe-IV(sic)O sites (with estimated barrier of 36 kcal/mol) and is comparable with the coupling between terminal oxo center and three-coordinated lattice oxo center (12 kcal/mol barrier). The process of hydroxylation of terminal oxygen inhibits the O-O coupling. Nevertheless, being more effective for ferryl oxygen, the hydroxylation in fact enhances selectivity of the O-O coupling initiated by the oxyl oxygen.