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Author Notes:

Corresponding Author: Djamaladdin G. Musaev, Department of Chemistry, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, 30322, USA. E-mail: chill@emory.edu

Dedicated to the memory of Prof. Keiji Morokuma.

There are no conflicts to declare.


Research Funding:

This material is based upon work supported by the U. S. Army Research Laboratory and the U. S. Army Research Office under grant number W911NF-15-2-0107.

The authors are grateful for the support of the Defence Threat Reduction Agency.

The authors gratefully acknowledge NSF MRI-R2 grant (CHE-0958205 for D. G. M.) and the use of the resources of the Cherry Emerson Center for Scientific Computation.

Impact of ambient gases on the mechanism of [Cs<inf>8</inf>Nb<inf>6</inf>O<inf>19</inf>]-promoted nerve-agent decomposition


Journal Title:

Chemical Science


Volume 9, Number 8


, Pages 2147-2158

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


The impact of ambient gas molecules (X), NO 2 , CO 2 and SO 2 on the structure, stability and decontamination activity of Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 polyoxometalate was studied computationally and experimentally. It was found that Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 absorbs these molecules more strongly than it adsorbs water and Sarin (GB) and that these interactions hinder nerve agent decontamination. The impacts of diamagnetic CO 2 and SO 2 molecules on polyoxoniobate Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 were fundamentally different from that of NO 2 radical. At ambient temperatures, weak coordination of the first NO 2 radical to Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 conferred partial radical character on the polyoxoniobate and promoted stronger coordination of the second NO 2 adsorbent to form a stable diamagnetic Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 /(NO 2 ) 2 species. Moreover, at low temperatures, NO 2 radicals formed stable dinitrogen tetraoxide (N 2 O 4 ) that weakly interacted with Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 . It was found that both in the absence and presence of ambient gas molecules, GB decontamination by the Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 species proceeds via general base hydrolysis involving: (a) the adsorption of water and the nerve agent on Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 /(X), (b) concerted hydrolysis of a water molecule on a basic oxygen atom of the polyoxoniobate and nucleophilic addition of the nascent OH group to the phosphorus center of Sarin, and (c) rapid reorganization of the formed pentacoordinated-phosphorus intermediate, followed by dissociation of either HF or isopropanol and formation of POM-bound isopropyl methyl phosphonic acid (i-MPA) or methyl phosphonofluoridic acid (MPFA), respectively. The presence of the ambient gas molecules increases the energy of the intermediate stationary points relative to the asymptote of the reactants and slightly increases the hydrolysis barrier. These changes closely correlate with the Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 -X complexation energy. The most energetically stable intermediates of the GB hydrolysis and decontamination reaction were found to be Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 /X-MPFA-(i-POH) and Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 /X-(i-MPA)-HF both in the absence and presence of ambient gas molecules. The high stability of these intermediates is due to, in part, the strong hydrogen bonding between the adsorbates and the protonated [Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 /X/H] + -core. Desorption of HF or/and (i-POH) and regeneration of the catalyst required deprotonation of the [Cs 8 Nb 6 O 19 /X/H] + -core and protonation of the phosphonic acids i-MPA and MPFA. This catalyst regeneration is shown to be a highly endothermic process, which is the rate-limiting step of the GB hydrolysis and decontamination reaction both in the absence and presence of ambient gas molecules.

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© 2018 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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