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Complete sticking at low incidence energies and broad angular scattering distributions at higher energies are often observed in molecular beam experiments on gas-surface systems which feature a deep chemisorption well and lack early reaction barriers. Although CO binds strongly on Ru(0001), scattering is characterized by rather narrow angular distributions and sticking is incomplete even at low incidence energies. We perform molecular dynamics simulations, accounting for phononic (and electronic) energy loss channels, on a potential energy surface based on first-principles electronic structure calculations that reproduce the molecular beam experiments. We demonstrate that the mentioned unusual behavior is a consequence of a very strong rotational anisotropy in the molecule-surface interaction potential. Beyond the interpretation of scattering phenomena, we also discuss implications of our results for the recently proposed role of a precursor state for the desorption and scattering of CO from ruthenium.

We report quantum chemical calculations, mostly based on density functional theory, on azobenzene and substituted azobenzenes as neutral molecules or ions, in ground and excited states. Both the cis and trans configurations are computed as well as the activation energies to transform one isomer into the other and the possible reaction paths and reaction surfaces along the torsion and inversion modes. All calculations are done for the isolated species, but results are discussed in light of recent experiments aiming at the switching of surface mounted azobenzenes by scanning tunneling microscopes.

A novel quantum method to deal with typical system-bath dynamical problems is introduced. Subsystem discrete variable representation and bath coherent-state sets are used to write down a multiconfigurational expansion of the wave function of the whole system. With the help of the Dirac-Frenkel variational principle, simple equations of motion-a kind of Schrodinger-Langevin equation for the subsystem coupled to (pseudo) classical equations for the bath-are derived. True dissipative dynamics at all times is obtained by coupling the bath to a secondary, classical Ohmic bath, which is modeled by adding a friction coefficient in the derived pseudoclassical bath equations. The resulting equations are then solved for a number of model problems, ranging from tunneling to vibrational relaxation dynamics. Comparison of the results with those of exact, multiconfiguration time-dependent Hartree calculations in systems with up to 80 bath oscillators shows that the proposed method can be very accurate and might be of help in studying realistic problems with very large baths. To this end, its linear scaling behavior with respect to the number of bath degrees of freedom is shown in practice with model calculations using tens of thousands of bath oscillators.

We present a quantum-mechanical tier model for vibrational relaxation of low-lying excited states of an adsorbate vibrational mode (system), coupled to surface phonons (bath), at zero temperature. The tier model, widely used in studies of intramolecular vibrational energy redistribution in polyatomics, is adapted here to adsorbate-surface systems with the help of an embedded cluster approach, using orthogonal coordinates for the system and bath modes, and a phononic expansion of their interaction. The key idea of the model is to organize the system-bath zeroth-order vibrational space into a hierarchical structure of vibrational tiers and keep therein only vibrational states that are sequentially generated from the system-bath initial vibrational state. Each tier is generated from the previous one by means of a successor operator, derived from the system-bath interaction Hamiltonian. This sequential procedure leads to a drastic reduction of the dimension of the system-bath vibrational space. We notably show that for harmonic vibrational motion of the system and linear system-bath couplings in the system coordinate, the dimension of the tier-model vibrational basis scales as similar to N-lxv. Here, N is the number of bath modes, l is the highest-order of the phononic expansion, and l is the size of the system vibrational basis. This polynomial scaling is computationally far superior to the exponential scaling of the original zeroth-order vibrational basis, similar to M-N, with M being the number of basis functions per bath mode. In addition, since each tier is coupled only to its adjacent neighbors, the matrix representation of the system-bath Hamiltonian in this new vibrational basis has a symmetric block-tridiagonal form, with each block being very sparse. This favors the combination of the tier-model with iterative Krylov techniques, such as the Lanczos algorithm, to solve the time-dependent Schrodinger equation for the full Hamiltonian. To illustrate the method, we study vibrational relaxation of a D-Si bending mode, coupled via two-and (mainly) one-phonon interactions to a fully D-covered Si(100)-(2 x 1) surface, using a recent first-principles system-bath Hamiltonian. The results of the tier model are compared with those obtained by the Lindblad formalism of the reduced density matrix. We find that the tier model provides much more information and insight into mechanisms of vibration-phonon couplings at surfaces, and gives more reliable estimates of the adsorbate vibrational lifetimes. Moreover, the tier model might also serve as a benchmark for other approximate quantum-dynamics methods, such as multiconfiguration wavefunction approaches. Published under license by AIP Publishing.

Water can adsorb molecularly or dissociatively onto different sites of metal oxide surfaces. These adsorption sites can be disentangled using surface-sensitive vibrational spectroscopy. Here, we model Vibrational Sum Frequency (VSF) spectra for various forms of dissociated, deuterated water on a reconstructed, Al-terminated α-Al2O3(0001) surface at submonolayer coverages (the so-called 1-2, 1-4, and 1-4′ modes). Using an efficient scheme based on velocity-velocity autocorrelation functions, we go beyond previous normal mode analyses by including anharmonicity, mode coupling, and thermal surface motion in the framework of ab initio molecular dynamics. In this way, we calculate vibrational density of states curves, infrared, and VSF spectra. Comparing computed VSF spectra with measured ones, we find that relative frequencies of resonances are in quite good agreement and linewidths are reasonably well represented, while VSF intensities coincide not well. We argue that intensities are sensitively affected by local interactions and thermal fluctuations, even at such low coverage, while absolute peak positions strongly depend on the choice of the electronic structure method and on the appropriate inclusion of anharmonicity.

High Harmonic Generation (HHG) is a nonlinear optical process that provides a tunable source for high-energy photons and ultrashort laser pulses. Recent experiments demonstrated that HHG spectroscopy may also be used as an analytical tool to discriminate between randomly oriented configurational isomers of polyatomic organic molecules, namely, between the cis- and trans-forms of 1,2-dichloroethene (DCE) [M. C. H. Wong et al., Phys. Rev. A 84, 051403 (2011)]. Here, we suggest as an economic and at the same time a reasonably accurate method to compute HHG spectra for polyatomic species, Time-Dependent Configuration Interaction Singles (TD-CIS) theory in combination with extended atomic orbital bases and different models to account for ionization losses. The HHG spectra are computed for aligned and unaligned cis- and trans-DCE. For the unaligned case, a coherent averaging over possible rotational orientations is introduced. Furthermore, using TD-CIS, possible differences between the HHG spectra of cis- and trans-DCE are studied. For aligned molecules, spectral differences between cis and trans emerge, which can be related to their different point group symmetries. For unaligned, randomly oriented molecules, we also find distinct HHG spectra in partial agreement with experiment. In addition to HHG response in the frequency space, we compute time-frequency HHG spectra to gain insight into which harmonics are emitted at which time. Further differences between the two isomers emerge, suggesting time-frequency HHG as another tool to discriminate configurational isomers.

The time-dependent approach to electronic spectroscopy, as popularized by Heller and coworkers in the 1980's, is applied here in conjunction with linear-response, time-dependent density functional theory to study vibronic absorption, emission and resonance Raman spectra of several diamondoids. Two-state models, the harmonic and the Condon approximations, are used for the calculations, making them easily applicable to larger molecules. The method is applied to nine pristine lower and higher diamondoids: adamantane, diamantane, triamantane, and three isomers each of tetramantane and pentamantane. We also consider a hybrid species “Dia = Dia” – a shorthand notation for a recently synthesized molecule comprising two diamantane units connected by a C[double bond, length as m-dash]C double bond. We resolve and interpret trends in optical and vibrational properties of these molecules as a function of their size, shape, and symmetry, as well as effects of “blending” with sp2-hybridized C-atoms. Time-dependent correlation functions facilitate the computations and shed light on the vibrational dynamics following electronic transitions.

The scanning tunnelling microscope (STM)-induced switching of a single cyclooctadiene molecule between two stable conformations chemisorbed on a Si(100) surface is investigated using an above threshold model including a neutral ground state and an ionic excited state potential. Switching was recently achieved experimentally with an STM operated at cryogenic temperatures (Nacci et al 2008 Phys. Rev. B 77 121405(R)) and rationalized by a below threshold model using just a single potential energy surface (Nacci et al 2009 Nano Lett. 9 2997).
In the present paper, we show that experimental key findings on the inelastic electron tunnelling (IET) switching can also be rationalized using an above threshold density matrix model, which includes, in addition to the neutral ground state potential, an anionic or cationic excited potential. We use one and two-dimensional potential energy surfaces. Furthermore, the influence of two key parameters of the density matrix description, namely the electronic lifetime of the ionic resonance and the vibrational lifetimes, on the ground state potential are discussed.

A multi-reference study of the byproduct formation for a ring-closed dithienylethene photoswitch
(2015)

Photodriven molecular switches are sometimes hindered in their performance by forming byproducts which act as dead ends in sequences of switching cycles, leading to rapid fatigue effects. Understanding the reaction pathways to unwanted byproducts is a prerequisite for preventing them. This article presents a study of the photochemical reaction pathways for byproduct formation in the photochromic switch 1,2-bis-(3-thienyl)-ethene. Specifically, using single- and multi-reference methods the post-deexcitation reaction towards the byproduct in the electronic ground state S0 when starting from the S1–S0 conical intersection (CoIn), is considered in detail. We find an unusual low-energy pathway, which offers the possibility for the formation of a dyotropic byproduct. Several high-energy pathways can be excluded with high probability.