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K Atom Promotion of O2 Chemisorption on Au(111) Surface

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journal contribution
posted on 19.02.2019 by Jindong Ren, Yanan Wang, Jin Zhao, Shijing Tan, Hrvoje Petek
Alkali atoms are known to promote or poison surface catalytic chemistry. To explore alkali promotion of catalysis and to characterize discharge species in alkali-oxygen batteries, we examine coadsorption of K and O2 on Au(111) surface at the atomic scale by scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and density functional theory (DFT). On a clean Au(111) surface, O2 molecules may weakly physisorb, but when Au(111) is decorated with K+ ions, they chemisorb into structures that depend on the adsorbate concentrations and substrate templating. At low K coverages, an ordered quantum lattice of K2O2 complexes forms through intramolecular attractive and intermolecule repulsive interactions. For higher K and O2 coverages, the K2O2 complexes condense first into triangular islands, which further coalesce into rhombohedral islands, and ultimately into incommensurate films. No structures display internal contrast possibly because of high structural mutability. DFT calculations explain the alkali-promoted coadsorption in terms of three center, cation−π interactions where pairs of K+ coordinate the π-orbitals on each side of O2 molecules, and in addition O2 forms a covalent bond to Au(111) surface. The K promoted adsorption of O2 is catalyzed by charge transfer from K atoms to Au(111) substrate and ultimately to O2 molecules, forming O2–δ in a redox state between the peroxo and superoxo. Tunneling dI/dV spectra of K2O2 complexes exhibit inordinately intense inelastic progression involving excitation of the O–O stretching vibration, but absence of a Kondo effect suggests that the magnetic moment of O2 is quenched.