Addressing the uncertainty of DFT-determined hydrogenation mechanisms over coinage metal surfaces
Density functional theory (DFT) has been considered as a powerful tool for the identification of reaction mechanisms. However, it is still unclear whether the error of DFT calculations would lead to misidentification of mechanisms. Here, taking the hydrogenation of acetylene and 1,3-butadiene as model reactions and employing a well-trained Bayesian error estimation functional with van der Waals correlation (BEEF-vdW), we try to estimate the error of DFT calculation results statistically and therefore predict the reliability of the hydrogenation mechanisms identified. With an ensemble of 2000 functionals obtained around the BEEF-vdW functional as well as a descriptor developed to represent the possibility of different mechanisms, we found that the non-Horiuti-Polanyi mechanism is preferred on Ag(211) and Au(211), while the Horiuti-Polanyi mechanism is dominant on Cu(211). We further discovered that the descriptor is linearly correlated with the adsorption energies of reaction intermediates during acetylene and butadiene hydrogenation, and the hydrogenation of strongly adsorbed species are more likely to follow the Horiuti-Polanyi mechanism. We found the probability of following non-HP mechanism obeys the order of Cu(211) < Au(211) < Ag(211). Our work gives more comprehensive explanations for the mechanisms of coinage metal catalyzed hydrogenation reactions with confidence, and also provide more theoretical insights into the development of new high-performance catalysts for selective hydrogenation reactions.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Reaction mechanisms in catalysis