A Quantum Chemical Investigation into the Molecular Mechanism of the Atmospheric Reactions of Chemi-Ions with Nitrogen and Nitrogen Oxides

Rehin Sulay, Anandhu Krishnan, Balasubramoniam Muralikrishna, Sudheesh Devadas, Chandralekha Rajalakshmi, Jintumol Mathew, Vibin Ipe Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Nitrogen oxides and chemi-ions are atmospheric pollutants with considerable aeronomic interest. These toxicants can react with each other, producing various ionic species and highly reactive by-products that play a crucial role in aerosol clustering and mediate several important atmospheric reactions. Understanding the chemical reactivity of these pollutants can provide essential information for controlling their excess emission into the atmosphere. Computational modeling and electronic structure studies help in predicting the structure, reactivity, and thermodynamics of transient atmospheric chemical species and can guide experimental research by providing vital mechanistic insights and data. In the present study, a computational investigation into the mechanisms of the binary associative reactions between negative ions: O2 and O3 with NO, NO2, and N2 was conducted using the Coupled-Cluster Singles and Doubles (CCSD) theory. Five model reactions between N2/NOx with On (n = 2, 3) were considered in this work. Our calculations revealed that reactions (2) and (5) are two sequential processes involving intermediates, and all others occur in a concerted manner by direct transitions from the reactants to the products, with no isolable intermediates proceeding via single non-planar transition states. Our study revealed that the higher activation barrier required for the formation of NO3 (2) as compared to NO2 (1) could be the reason for the excess formation of NO2 ions over NO3 ions in the atmosphere. Further, all the investigated reactions except (5) are found to be feasible at room temperature. The energy required to break N-N bonds in the N2 molecule justifies the high barrier for (5). The results obtained from the study are in close agreement with the available experimental data. Moreover, the data from the study can be utilized for the evaluation of experiments and model predictions pertaining to NOx oxidation and molecular modeling of the gas-phase chemistry of pollutants/nucleation precursors formed in the Earth’s atmosphere and aircraft engines.

Original languageBritish English
Article number1257
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • activation energy
  • chemi-ion
  • computational modeling
  • nitrogen oxides
  • transition state


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