Probing the transition state region in catalytic CO oxidation on Ru

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Science  27 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6225, pp. 978-982
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261747

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Catching CO oxidation

Details of the transition state that forms as carbon monoxide (CO) adsorbed on a ruthenium surface is oxidized to CO2 have been revealed by ultrafast excitation and probe methods. Öström et al. initiated the reaction between CO and adsorbed oxygen atoms with laser pulses that rapidly heated the surface and then probed the changes in electronic structure with oxygen x-ray absorption spectroscopy. They observed transition-state configurations that are consistent with density functional theory and a quantum oscillator model.

Science, this issue p. 978


Femtosecond x-ray laser pulses are used to probe the carbon monoxide (CO) oxidation reaction on ruthenium (Ru) initiated by an optical laser pulse. On a time scale of a few hundred femtoseconds, the optical laser pulse excites motions of CO and oxygen (O) on the surface, allowing the reactants to collide, and, with a transient close to a picosecond (ps), new electronic states appear in the O K-edge x-ray absorption spectrum. Density functional theory calculations indicate that these result from changes in the adsorption site and bond formation between CO and O with a distribution of OC–O bond lengths close to the transition state (TS). After 1 ps, 10% of the CO populate the TS region, which is consistent with predictions based on a quantum oscillator model.

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