With the aim of developing a computationally inexpensive method for modeling the high-temperature reaction dynamics of transition metal catalyzed reactions we have developed a ReaxFF reactive force field in which the parameters are fitted to a substantial quantum mechanics (QM) training set, containing full reaction pathways for relevant reactions. In this paper we apply this approach to reactions involving carbon materials plus Co, Ni, and Cu atoms. We find that ReaxFF reproduces the QM reaction data with good accuracy while also reproducing the binding characteristics of Co, Ni, and Cu atoms to hydrocarbon fragments. To demonstrate the applicability of ReaxFF we performed high-temperature (1500 K) molecular dynamics simulations on a nonbranched all-carbon feedstock in the presence and absence of Co, Ni, and Cu atoms. We find that the presence of Co and Ni leads to substantial amounts of branched carbon atoms, leading eventually to the formation of carbon-nanotube-like species. In contrast, we find that under the same simulation conditions Cu leads to very little branching and leads to products with no nanotube character. In the absence of metals no branching is observed at all. These results suggest that Ni and Co catalyze the production of nanotube-like species whereas Cu does not. This is in excellent agreement with experimental observations, demonstrating that ReaxFF can provide a useful and computational tractable tool for studying the dynamics of transition metal catalytic chemistry.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry