Electron Transfer of Functionalised Quinones in Acetonitrile
Quinones are redox active organic molecules that have been proposed as an alternative choice to metal-based materials in electrochemical energy storage devices. Functionalization allows to fine tune not only their chemical stability but also the redox potential and the kinetics of the electron transfer reaction. However, reaction rate constant is not solely determined by the redox species but is also impacted by solvent effects. In this work, we show how the functionalization of benzoquinone with different functional groups impacts the solvent reorganization free energies of electron transfer half-reactions in acetonitrile. The use of molecular density functional theory, whose computational cost for studying electron transfer reaction is considerably reduced compared to state-of-the art molecular dynamics simulations, enables to perform a systematic study. We validate the method by comparing the predictions of the solvation shell structure and the free energy profiles for electron transfer reaction to reference classical molecular dynamics simulations in the case of anthraquinone solvated in acetonitrile. We show that all the studied electron transfer half-reactions follow Marcus’ description, regardless of functional groups. Consequently, the solvent reorganization free energy decreases as the molecular size increases.