The enzyme nitrogenase catalyzes the biological nitrogen fixation where N-2 is reduced to NH3. Density functional calculations are presented of the bonding and hydrogenation of N-2 on a MoFe6S9 complex constructed to model aspects of the active site of nitrogenase. N-2 is found to bind end on to one of the Fe atoms. A complete energy diagram for the addition of hydrogen to the MoFe6S9 complex with and without N-2 is given, and a mechanism for ammonia synthesis is proposed on this basis.
Bibliographical noteCopyright (1999) by the American Physical Society.