Computational Studies of Chemical Interactions: Molecules, Surfaces and Copper Corrosion

Abstract: The chemical bond – a corner stone in science and a prerequisite for life – is the focus of this thesis. Fundamental and applied aspects of chemical bonding are covered including the development of new computational methods for the characterization and rationalization of chemical interactions. The thesis also covers the study of corrosion of copper-based materials. The latter is motivated by the proposed use of copper as encapsulating material for spent nuclear fuel in Sweden.In close collaboration with experimental groups, state-of-the-art computational methods were employed for the study of chemistry at the atomic scale. First, oxidation of nanoparticulate copper was examined in anoxic aqueous media in order to better understand the copper-water thermodynamics in relation to the corrosion of copper material under oxygen free conditions. With a similar ambition, the water-cuprite interface was investigated with regards to its chemical composition and reactivity. This was compared to the behavior of methanol and hydrogen sulfide at the cuprite surface.An overall ambition during the development of computational methods for the analysis of chemical bonding was to bridge the gap between molecular and materials chemistry. Theory and results are thus presented and applied in both a molecular and a solid-state framework. A new property, the local electron attachment energy, for the characterization of a compound’s local electrophilicity was introduced. Together with the surface electrostatic potential, the new property predicts and rationalizes regioselectivity and trends of molecular reactions, and interactions on metal and oxide nanoparticles and extended surfaces.Detailed atomistic understanding of chemical processes is a prerequisite for the efficient development of chemistry. We therefore envisage that the results of this thesis will find widespread use in areas such as heterogeneous catalysis, drug discovery, and nanotechnology.