The pathway of activationless proton transfer induced by an electron-transfer reaction is studied theoretically. Long-range electron transfer produces highly nonequilibrium medium polarization that can drive proton transfer through an activationless transition during the process of thermalization, dynamically altering the screening of the electron-proton Coulomb interaction by the medium. The cross electron-proton reorganization energy is the main energy parameter of the theory, which exceeds in magnitude the proton-transfer reorganization energy roughly by the ratio of the electron-transfer to proton-transfer distance. This parameter, which can be either positive or negative, is related to the difference in pKavalues in two electron-transfer states. The relaxation time of the medium is on the (sub)picosecond time scale, which establishes the characteristic time for activationless proton transfer. Microscopic calculations predict substantial retardation of the collective relaxation dynamics compared to the continuum estimates due to the phenomenology analogous to de Gennes narrowing. Nonequilibrium medium configuration promoting proton transfer can be induced by either thermal or photoinduced charge transfer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry