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Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie

International journal of research in physical chemistry and chemical physics

Editor-in-Chief: Rademann, Klaus

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Volume 227, Issue 9-11


Kinetic Prefactors of Reactions on Solid Surfaces

Charles T. Campbell / Líney Árnadóttir
  • School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-2702, USA
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jason R. V. Sellers
Published Online: 2013-08-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/zpch.2013.0395


Adsorbed molecules are involved in many reactions on solid surfaces that are of great technological importance. As such, there has been tremendous effort worldwide to learn how to theoretically predict rates for reactions involving adsorbed molecules. Theoretical calculations of rate constants require knowing both their activation energy and prefactor. Recent advances in ab initio computational methods (e.g., density functional theory with periodic boundary conditions and van der Waals corrections) promise to soon provide activation energies for surface reactions with sufficient accuracy to have real predictive ability. However, to predict reaction rates, we also need accurate predictions of prefactors. We recently discovered that the standard entropies of adsorbed molecules (Sad0) linearly track the entropy of the gas-phase molecule at the same temperature (T), such that Sad0(T) = 0.70 Sgas0(T) − 3.3 R (R = the gas constant), with a standard deviation of only 2 R over a range of 50 R. This correlation, which applies only to conditions where their surface residence times are shorter than ∼ 1000 s, provides a powerful new method for estimating the partition functions for adsorbates and the kinetic prefactors for their reactions. For desorption, we show that the prefactors obtained with DFT using transition state theory (TST) and the harmonic oscillator approximation to get the partition function predicts prefactors for desorption that are of order 103 times larger than experimental values while our approach gives much better estimates. We also explore the applications of this approach to estimate prefactors within TST for the main classes of adsorbate reactions: desorption, diffusion, dissociation and association, and discuss its limitations. We discuss general issues associated with applying TST to rate laws and multi-step mechanisms in surface chemistry, and argue that rates of adsorbate reactions which are often taken to be proportional to coverage (θ) might better be taken as proportional to θ/(1 − θ) (unless the adsorbate forms islands), to account for the configurational entropy or excluded volume effects on the adsorbate's chemical potential.

Keywords: Surface Reactions; Adsorbate; Kinetics; Kinetic Prefactors; Transition State Theory

About the article


Received: 2013-01-31

Published Online: 2013-08-05

Published in Print: 2013-11-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie, Volume 227, Issue 9-11, Pages 1435–1454, ISSN (Online) 2196-7156, ISSN (Print) 0942-9352, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/zpch.2013.0395.

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© 2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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