DFT Analysis of Fe(H 2O) 6 3+ and Fe(H 2O) 6 2+ Structure and Vibrations; Implications for Isotope Fractionation

A. A. Jarzȩcki, A. D. Anbar, T. G. Spiro

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94 Scopus citations


Density functional theory (DFT) calculations of structure and vibrational modes are reported for the ferrous and ferric hexaaquo ions, using B3LYP gradient-corrected hybrid density functionals, standard 6-31G* basis sets on the O and H atoms, and Ahlrichs' valence triple-ζ (VTZ) basis set on the Fe atom. The effect of hydrogen bonding in solvents or in crystals has been approximated with the polarizable continuum model (PCM). The optimized structures predict a regular FeO 6 octahedron for Fe(H 2O) 6 3+, as expected, but inequivalent Fe-O distances (C i symmetry) for Fe(H 2O) 6 2+, reflecting Jahn-Teller distortion. PCM shortens the Fe-O distances and produces excellent agreement with crystallographic data. In vacuo, DFT produces a stable T h structure for Fe(H 2O) 6 3+, with the H 2O molecules lying in FeO 4 planes, but PCM induces tilting and rotation of the H 2O molecules. This effect is shown to be an artifact of the PCM methodology, but it does not significantly affect the computed Fe-O stretching and bending frequencies, which are the main determinants of the equilibrium isotope fractionation. The DFT-computed vibrational modes are consistent with reported Raman and infrared spectra of the complexes in crystals, except that assigned O-Fe-O bending frequencies are higher than predicted, probably owing to strong hydrogen bonding in the ionic lattices. The computation produces a significant revision of the 54/56Fe isotope sensitivity of the Fe(H 2O) 6 3+ and Fe(H 2O) 6 2+ vibrational partition functions, relative to a previous estimate from an empirical FeO 6 force field. The difference arises in part from lowered bending mode frequencies and in part from including modes of the bound H 2O (rocking, wagging, and twisting), which have nonnegligible 54/56Fe isotope shifts. Excellent agreement is found with the recently determined isotope fractionation factor for the Fe(H 2O) 6 3+/2+ exchange equilibrium. DFT vibrational analysis of metal complexes can contribute significantly to the evaluation of geochemical and biogeochemical isotope fractionation data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2726-2732
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 8 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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