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Automated discovery of chemically reasonable elementary reaction steps


Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109. E-mail:


Due to the significant human effort and chemical intuition required to locate chemical reaction pathways with quantum chemical modeling, only a small subspace of possible reactions is usually investigated for any given system. Herein, a systematic approach is proposed for locating reaction paths that bypasses the required human effort and expands the reactive search space, all while maintaining low computational cost. To achieve this, a range of intermediates are generated that represent potential single elementary steps away from a starting structure. These structures are then screened to identify those that are thermodynamically accessible, and then feasible reaction paths to the remaining structures are located. This strategy for elementary reaction path finding is independent of atomistic model whenever bond breaking and forming are properly described. The approach is demonstrated to work well for upper main group elements, but this limitation can easily be surpassed. Further extension will allow discovery of multistep reaction mechanisms in a single computation. The method is highly parallel, allowing for effective use of modern large-scale computational clusters. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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