Proton-Coupled Defects Impact O-H Bond Dissociation Free Energies on Metal Oxide Surfaces

Robert E. Warburton, James M. Mayer, Sharon Hammes-Schiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) reactions on metal oxides require coupling between proton transfer at the solid-liquid interface and electron transfer involving defects at or near the band edge. Herein, hybrid functional periodic density functional theory is used to elucidate the impact of proton-coupled defects on the bond dissociation free energies (BDFEs) of O-H bonds on anatase TiO2 surfaces. These O-H BDFEs are directly related to interfacial PCET thermochemistry. Comparison between geometrically similar O-H bonds associated with different defect types, namely conduction d-band electrons or valence p-band holes, reveals that the BDFEs differ by ∼81 kcal/mol (3.50 eV), comparable to the wide TiO2 band gap. These differences are shown to be determined primarily by differences in electron transfer driving forces, which are analyzed by using band energies and inner-sphere reorganization energies within a Marcus theory framework. These fundamental insights about the impact of proton-coupled defects on PCET thermochemistry at semiconductor surfaces have broad implications for electrocatalysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9761-9767
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 14 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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