Trapping Nitric Oxide by Surface Hydroxyls on Rutile TiO2(110)

Hydroxyls are omnipresent on oxide surfaces under ambient conditions. While they unambiguously play an important role in many catalytic processes, it is not well-understood how these species influence surface chemistry at atomic scale. We investigated the adsorption of nitric oxide (NO) on a hydroxylated rutile TiO2(110) surface with scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), X-ray/ultraviolet photoemission spectroscopy (XPS/UPS), and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. At room temperature adsorption of NO is only possible in the vicinity of a surface hydroxyl, and leads to a change of the local electronic structure. DFT calculations confirm that the surface hydroxyl-induced excess charge is transferred to the NO adsorbate, which results in an electrostatic stabilization of the adsorbate and, consequently, a significantly stronger bonding.