The true global potential energy minimum configuration of the formaldehyde dimer (CH2O)2, including the presence of a single or a double weak intermolecular CH⋯O hydrogen bond motif, has been a long-standing subject among both experimentalists and theoreticians as two different energy minima conformations of Cs and C2h symmetry have almost identical energies. The present work demonstrates how the class of large-amplitude hydrogen bond vibrational motion probed in the THz region provides excellent direct spectroscopic observables for these weak intermolecular CH⋯O hydrogen bond motifs. The combination of concentration dependency measurements, observed isotopic spectral shifts associated with H/D substitutions and dedicated annealing procedures, enables the unambiguous assignment of three large-amplitude infrared active hydrogen bond vibrational modes for the non-planar Cs configuration of (CH2O)2 embedded in cryogenic neon and enriched para-hydrogen matrices. A (semi)-empirical value for the change of vibrational zero-point energy of 5.5 ± 0.3 kJ mol−1 is proposed for the dimerization process. These THz spectroscopic observations are complemented by CCSD(T)-F12/aug-cc-pV5Z (electronic energies) and MP2/aug-cc-pVQZ (force fields) electronic structure calculations yielding a (semi)-empirical value of 13.7 ± 0.3 kJ mol−1 for the dissociation energy D0 of this global potential energy minimum.
Andersen, J., Voute, A., Mihrin, D., Heimdal, J., Berg, R. W., Torsson, M., & Larsen, R. W. (2017). Probing the global potential energy minimum of (CH2O)2: THz absorption spectrum of (CH2O)2 in solid neon and para-hydrogen. Journal of Chemical Physics, 146, . https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4990042