Anomalous temperature-isotope dependence in proton-coupled electron transfer

Steve Pressé, Robert Silbey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Motivated by the experiments of Hodgkiss [J. Phys. Chem. (submitted)] on electron transfer (ET) through a H-bonding interface, we present a new theoretical model for proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) in the condensed phase, that does not involve real proton transfer. These experiments, which directly probe the joint T -isotope effects in coupled charge transfer reactions, show anomalous T dependence in kH kD, where kH and kD are the ET rates through the H-bonding interface with H-bonded protons and deuterons, respectively. We address the anomalous T dependence of the kH kD in our model by attributing the modulation of the electron tunneling dynamics to bath-induced fluctuations in the proton coordinate, so that the mechanism for coupled charge transfer might be better termed vibrationally assisted ET rather than PCET. We argue that such a mechanism may be relevant to understanding traditional PCET processes, i.e., those in which protons undergo a transfer from donor to acceptor during the course of ET, provided there is an appropriate time scale separating both coupled charge transfers. Likewise, it may also be useful in understanding long-range ET in proteins, where tunneling pathways between redox cofactors often pass through H-bonded amino acid residues, or other systems with sufficiently decoupled proton and electron donating functionalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number164504
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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