Hydrolysis of Acetamide on Low-Index CeO Surfaces: Ceria as a Deamidation and General De-esterification Catalyst

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Using DFT calculations and acetamide as the main example, we show that ceria is a potential catalyst for the hydrolysis of amide and similar bonds. The overall reaction is endergonic in the gas phase, yielding acetic acid and ammonia, but is slightly exergonic in the aqueous phase, which facilitates ionization of the products (CHCOO and NH ). Neighboring Ce and O sites on the CeO(111), (110), and (100) facets are conducive to the formation of an activated metastable tetrahedral intermediate (TI) complex, followed by C-N bond scission. With van der Waals and solvation effects taken into account, the overall reaction energetics is found to be most favorable on the (111) facet as desorption of acetic acid is much more uphill energetically on (110) and (100). We further suggest that the Ce-O-Ce sites on ceria surfaces can activate X(=Y)-Z type bonds in amides, amidines, and carboxylate and phosphate esters, among many others that we term "generalized esters". A Brønsted-Evans-Polanyi relationship is identified correlating the stability of the transition and final states of the X-Z generalized ester bond scission. A simple descriptor (ΣΔχ) based on the electronegativity of the atoms that constitute the bond (X, Y, Z) versus those of the catalytic site (O, Ce, Ce) captures the trend in the stability of the transition state of generalized ester bond scission and suggests a direction for modifying ceria for targeting specific organic substrates.

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ACS catalysis

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