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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Water (Non-)Interaction with MoO3.


Molybdenum(VI) oxide (MoO3) is used in a number of technical processes such as gas filtration and heterogeneous catalysis. In these applications, the adsorption and dissociation of water on the surface can influence the chemistry of MoO3 and thus the course of heterogeneous reactions. We use ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to study the interaction of water with a stoichiometric MoO3 surface and a MoO3 surface that features oxygen defects and hydroxyl groups. The experimental results are supported by density functional theory calculations. We show that on a stoichiometric MoO3(010) surface, where Mo sites are unavailable, water adsorption is strongly disfavored. However, the introduction of surface species, which can interact with the lone pairs on the water O atom, e.g., Mo5+ atoms or surface OH groups, promotes water adsorption. Dissociation of water is favored at unsaturated Mo sites, i.e., at oxygen vacancies, while water adsorbs molecularly at hydroxyl sites.

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