Imaging Pattern Formation in Surface Reactions from Ultrahigh Vacuum up to Atmospheric Pressures

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Science  27 Oct 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5236, pp. 608-610
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5236.608


Two optical methods that allow pattern formation to be investigated at an arbitrary pressure are here applied to image concentration patterns of adsorbed species associated with heterogeneous catalytic reactions. In contrast to most surface physical techniques, these methods are not restricted to high vacuum conditions and thus bridge the “pressure gap.” With carbon monoxide oxidation on a (110) surface of platinum as an example, the coupling mechanisms responsible for spatiotemporal self-organization in surface reactions were followed from reaction-diffusion control to the thermokinetic region, associated with phenomena not previously observed in pattern formation.