Redox potentials and pKa for benzoquinone from density functional theory based molecular dynamics

Jun Cheng, Marialore Sulpizi, Michiel Sprik

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163 Citations (Scopus)


The density functional theory based molecular dynamics (DFTMD) method for the computation of redox free energies presented in previous publications and the more recent modification for computation of acidity constants are reviewed. The method uses a half reaction scheme based on reversible insertion/removal of electrons and protons. The proton insertion is assisted by restraining potentials acting as chaperones. The procedure for relating the calculated deprotonation free energies to Brønsted acidities (pKa) and the oxidation free energies to electrode potentials with respect to the normal hydrogen electrode is discussed in some detail. The method is validated in an application to the reduction of aqueous 1,4-benzoquinone. The conversion of hydroquinone to quinone can take place via a number of alternative pathways consisting of combinations of acid dissociations, oxidations, or dehydrogenations. The free energy changes of all elementary steps (ten in total) are computed. The accuracy of the calculations is assessed by comparing the energies of different pathways for the same reaction (Hess’s law) and by comparison to experiment. This two-sided test enables us to separate the errors related with the restrictions on length and time scales accessible to DFTMD from the errors introduced by the DFT approximation. It is found that the DFT approximation is the main source of error for oxidation free energies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number154504
Number of pages20
JournalThe Journal of Chemical Physics
Issue number15
Early online date19 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2009


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