Molecular Transformations on Single Crystal Metal Surfaces

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Science  12 Sep 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4769, pp. 1159-1166
DOI: 10.1126/science.233.4769.1159


One of the primary objectives of modern surface chemistry of transition metals is the synthesis of surface compounds and complexes and the understanding of their reactivity, structure, and bonding. Such considerations are paramount for advancing understanding of catalysis, adhesion, organic thin-film growth, and electrocatalysis. On selected metals, particularly copper, silver, and gold, selective scission of X-H bonds (where X is oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, or sulfur) by surface-bound atomic oxygen occurs to form moderately stable species that can be isolated for further study. Selective oxidation reactions may occur heterogeneously by means of this novel oxygen- activated route. Furthermore, this selective chemistry offers a paradigm for synthesis of a wide variety of surface organometallic complexes, whose formation can be predicted from acid-base principles. These subjects are discussed in this article with emphasis on their role in catalytic oxidation cycles.