Hydrogen quenches the size effects in carbon clusters
A characteristic fingerprint of atomic clusters is that their properties can vary in a non-smooth way with the cluster size N. This is illustrated herein by studying the cluster size dependence of several properties of neutral CN and cationic C+N carbon clusters: C–C bond lengths, cluster structure, intrinsic cluster stability, ionization energy, and spatial distribution of the reactivity index for charge exchange with electrophiles. Nonetheless, clusters can lose the size dependence of their properties by interaction with other chemical species, which is rationalized in this study by analyzing carbon clusters fully saturated with hydrogen to form linear alkanes, CNH2N+2. In all cases, the lowest energy structures are zigzagging linear chains, the variations of C–C bond lengths and angles with alkane size are very minor and smooth, the stability function shows practically no structure as a function of the alkane size, the ionization energies just decrease smoothly with alkane size, and the spatial distribution of the reactivity index is analogous and highly delocalized in all the alkanes. In summary, the interaction of carbon clusters with hydrogen to form alkanes quenches all the size-dependent features that the carbon clusters originally owned. The arrival at the quenching of the size effects follows an involved path. In each CNHn family with fixed N, the values of the properties of the molecules like the ionization potential, the electron affinity, and others show sizable oscillations as the number of hydrogen atoms grows from the pure carbon cluster to the alkane.