Accelerated molecular dynamics simulation of the thermal desorption of n -alkanes from the basal plane of graphite

Kelly E. Becker, Kristen A. Fichthorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


We utilize accelerated molecular dynamics to simulate alkane desorption from the basal plane of graphite. Eight different molecules, ranging from n -pentane to n -hexadecane, are studied in the low coverage limit. Acceleration of the molecular dynamics simulations is achieved using two different methods: temperature acceleration and a compensating potential scheme. We find that the activation energy for desorption increases with increasing chain length. The desorption prefactor increases with chain length for molecules ranging from pentane to decane. This increase subsides and the value of the preexponential factor fluctuates about an apparently constant value for decane, dodecane, tetradecane, and hexadecane. These trends are consistent with data obtained in experimental temperature-programed desorption (TPD) studies. We explain the dependence of the preexponential factor on alkane chain length by examining conformational changes within the alkane molecules. For the shorter molecules, torsional motion is not activated over experimental temperature ranges. These molecules can be treated as rigid rods and their partial loss in translational and rotational entropies upon adsorption increases as chain length increases, leading to an increasing preexponential factor. At their typical TPD peak temperatures, torsions are activated in the longer adsorbed chain molecules to a significant extent which increases with increasing chain length, increasing the entropy of the adsorbed molecule. This increase counteracts the decrease in entropy due to a loss of translation and rotation, leading to a virtually constant prefactor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number184706
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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