A rotationally fluid state of α-pinene at fused silica/vapor interfaces is revealed by computational and experimental vibrational sum frequency generation (SFG) studies. We report the first assignment of the vibrational modes in the notoriously congested C-H stretching region of α-pinene and identify its bridge methylene group on the four-membered ring ("βCH2") as the origin of its dominant spectral feature. We find that the spectra are perfused with Fermi resonances that need to be accounted for explicitly in the computation of vibrational spectra of strained hydrocarbons such as α-pinene. The preferred orientations of α-pinene are consistent with optimization of van der Waals contacts with the silica surface that results in a bimodal distribution of highly fluxional orientations in which the βCH2 group points "towards" or "away from" the surface. Classical molecular dynamics simulations further provide rotational diffusion constants of 49 ± 1 ps and 2580 ± 60 ps, which are attributed to two broad types of adsorption modes on silica. The reported findings are particularly relevant to the exposure of α-pinene to primary oxidants in heterogeneous catalytic pathways that exploit α-pinene as a sustainable feedstock for fine chemicals and polymers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films