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Molecular models of benzene and selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the aqueous and adsorbed states


  • James D. Kubicki,

    Corresponding author
    1. Computer Sciences Corporation, 4045 Hancock St., San Diego, California 92110, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. The current address of J.D. Kubicki is Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
    • Computer Sciences Corporation, 4045 Hancock St., San Diego, California 92110, USA
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  • Geoffrey A. Blake,

    1. Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology 150-4, Pasadena, California 91125, USA
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  • Sabine E. Apitz

    1. Remediation Research Laboratory, 53475 Strothe Rd. Rm. 267D, San Diego, California 92152, USA
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  • Presented at the 218th Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Las Vegas, NV, USA, September 7-11, 1997.


Energy gaps between the highest-occupied molecular orbital and lowest-unoccupied molecular orbital (ΔEHOMO-LUMO) for a suite of common polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the gas-phase were calculated with three different molecular modeling methods: semiempirical, ab initio Hartree-Fock, and density functional calculations. Results indicate that semiempirical, Hartree-Fock, and density functional calculations may provide useful relative HOMO-LUMO gap information, but these methods overestimate the actual ΔEHOMO-LUMO. Based on vibrational frequency analyses, density functional calculations reliably produce dynamically stable structures that can be used to predict model ΔEHOMO-LUMO values. Both the semiempirical and ab initio Hartree-Fock methods were unreliable in predicting dynamically stable structures; hence prediction of ΔEHOMO-LUMO values was not possible for several PAHs. Changes in the HOMO-LUMO gap of benzene and selected PAHs due to solvation effects were calculated using self-consistent reaction field methods and explicit solvation. Self-consistent isodensity polarized continuum model calculations modeling water and octanol solvation do not change calculated ΔEHOMO-LUMO values enough to affect predicted phototoxicities; thus, gas-phase values may be used for PAHs in solution and in vivo. Energetics of PAH bonding to mineral surface groups were also modeled. In some cases, interaction of PAHs with model aluminate surface defects suggests that ΔEHOMO-LUMO values may be lowered significantly by adsorption that would lower chemical stabilities. Significant increases in calculated ΔEHOMO-LUMO that would increase chemical stability of the compounds were not predicted.