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Reversible Control of Hydrogenation of a Single Molecule

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Science  29 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5833, pp. 1883-1886
DOI: 10.1126/science.1141410

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Abstract

Low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy was used to selectively break the N-H bond of a methylaminocarbyne (CNHCH3) molecule on a Pt(111) surface at 4.7 kelvin, leaving the C-H bonds intact, to form an adsorbed methylisocyanide molecule (CNCH3). The methylisocyanide product was identified through comparison of its vibrational spectrum with that of directly adsorbed methylisocyanide as measured with inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy. The CNHCH3 could be regenerated in situ by exposure to hydrogen at room temperature. The combination of tip-induced dehydrogenation with thermodynamically driven hydrogenation allows a completely reversible chemical cycle to be established at the single-molecule level in this system. By tailoring the pulse conditions, irreversible dissociation entailing cleavage of both the C-H and N-H bonds can also be demonstrated.

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