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Journal Article

van der Waals Interactions Determine Selectivity in Catalysis by Metallic Gold


Liu,  Wei
Theory, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;


Tkatchenko,  Alexandre
Theory, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Rodriguez-Reyes, J. C. F., Siler, C. G., Liu, W., Tkatchenko, A., Friend, C. M., & Madix, R. J. (2014). van der Waals Interactions Determine Selectivity in Catalysis by Metallic Gold. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 136(38), 13333-13340. doi:10.1021/ja506447y.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0023-C989-6
To achieve high selectivity for catalytic reactions between two or more reactants on a heterogeneous catalyst, the relative concentrations of the reactive intermediates on the surface must be optimized. If species compete for binding sites, their concentrations depend on their relative binding strengths to the surface. In this article we describe a general framework for predicting the relative stability of organic intermediates involved in oxygen-assisted reactions on metallic gold with broad relevance to catalysis by metals. Combining theory and experiment, we establish that van der Waals interactions between the reactive intermediates and the surface, although weak, determine relative stabilities and thereby dictate the conditions for optimum selectivity. The inclusion of these interactions is essential for predicting these trends. The concepts and methods employed here have broad applicability for determining the stability of intermediates on the surfaces of catalytic metals and specifically demonstrate the critical role of weak interactions in determining reaction selectivity among reactions of complex molecules.