NMR Studies of Simple Molecules on Metal Surfaces

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Science  03 Oct 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4772, pp. 35-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.234.4772.35


In recent years, improvements in the sensitivity of nuclear magnetic resonance have made it possible to detect progressively smaller numbers of nuclei. Experiments and studies previously thought to be impractical can now be undertaken, for example, the study of phenomena at surfaces. Nuclear magnetic resonance has been applied to study simple molecules (carbon monoxide, acetylene, and ethylene) adsorbed on metal surfaces (ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum). The metals, in the form of clusters 10 to 50 angstroms in diameter, supported on alumina, are typical of real catalysts. The experiments provide information about the bonding of the molecules to the metal, the structures the molecules assume after adsorption, the motion of molecules on the surface, the breakup of molecules induced by heating, and the products of such breakup.