The visualization of surface reactions on the atomic scale provides direct insight into the microscopic reaction steps taking place in a catalytic reaction at a (model) catalyst's surface. Employing the technique of scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), we have investigated the CO oxidation reaction over the RuO2(110) and RuO2(100) surfaces. For both surfaces the protruding bridging O atoms are imaged in STM as bright features. The reaction mechanism is identical on both orientations of RuO2. CO molecules adsorb on the undercoordinated surface Ru atoms from where they recombine with undercoordinated O atoms to form CO2 at the oxide surface. In contrast to the RuO2(110) surface, the RuO2(100) surface stabilizes also a catalytically inactive c(2x2) surface phase onto which CO is not able to adsorb above 100 K. We argue that this inactive RuO2(100)-c(2x2) phase may play an important role in the deactivation of RuO2 catalysts in the electrochemical Cl2 evolution and other heterogeneous reactions.
Corresponding author: H. Over (University Giessen). Reprints also available from M. Schmid (schmid).
Users with online access to ChemPhysChem can load the article from the publisher.