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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Complex reactions on a convertible catalyst surface: A study of the S-O-Cu system

  • Author(s): Dürrbeck, S
  • Shi, XR
  • Samadashvili, M
  • Redinger, J
  • Bertel, E
  • Salmeron, M
  • et al.

The interaction of clean and partially oxidized Cu(110) with sulphur was studied by scanning tunneling microscopy and density functional theory calculations in the low-coverage range. On the clean Cu surface individual S atoms adsorb in the troughs between the Cu atom rows. Hollow sites are preferred, but long-bridge sites are occasionally occupied as well. The majority of adsorbed S, however, seems to be involved in the formation of highly mobile Cu S clusters of various sizes. The clusters preferentially attach to steps thus changing the step morphology completely. Some of the clusters form aggregates on the terraces. On the partially oxidized surface similar clusters form and cause long-range mass transport to steps. Additionally, nanowires form in [001] direction on and along the surface oxide stress domains. These nanowires have a complex composition, exhibit different corrugations and appear sometimes as three-dimensional needles. Occasionally they flip their direction by 90°, but doing so they partially decompose. Finally, annealing of the S-O-Cu surface leads to consumption of the surface oxide stripes indicating loss of oxygen presumably via SO formation. Simultaneously, linear sulphur chains suspended between the [001] –O-Cu-O- chains form in [11¯0] direction. The surprising multitude of processes and products even at low-pressure, low-temperature conditions in the comparatively simple S-O-Cu system highlights the difficulty of controlling reactivity and selectivity on such convertible catalyst surfaces. x y 2

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