Nanoconfinement entropic effects on chemical equilibrium involving a small number of molecules, which we term NCECE, are revealed by two widely diverse types of reactions. Employing statistical-mechanical principles, we show how the NCECE effect stabilizes nucleotide dimerization observed within self-assembled molecular cages. Furthermore, the effect provides the basis for dimerization even under an aqueous environment inside the nanocage. Likewise, the NCECE effect is pertinent to a longstanding issue in astrochemistry, namely the extra deuteration commonly observed for molecules reacting on interstellar dust grain surfaces. The origin of the NCECE effect is elucidated by means of the probability distributions of the reaction extent and related variations in the reactant-product mixing entropy. Theoretical modelling beyond our previous preliminary work highlights the role of the nanospace size in addition to that of the nanosystem size, namely the limited amount of molecules in the reaction mixture. Furthermore, the NCECE effect can depend also on the reaction mechanism, and on deviations from stoichiometry. The NCECE effect, leading to enhanced, greatly variable equilibrium "constants", constitutes a unique physical-chemical phenomenon, distinguished from the usual thermodynamical properties of macroscopically large systems. Being significant particularly for weakly exothermic reactions, the effects should stabilize products in other closed nanoscale structures, and thus can have notable implications for the growing nanotechnological utilization of chemical syntheses conducted within confined nanoreactors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry