While coupling reactions of carbon-containing compounds are numerous in organometallic chemistry, they are very rare on well-defined solid surfaces. In this work we show that the reductive coupling of two molecules of carbon monoxide to C-2 compounds (acetylene and ethylene) could be achieved on oxygen-defected UO2(111) single crystal and thin film surfaces. This result allows in situ electron spectroscopic investigation of a typical organometallic reaction such as carbon coupling and extends it to heterogeneous catalysis and solids. By using high-resolution photoelectron spectroscopy (HRYPS) it was possible to track the changes in surface states of the U and 0 atoms as well as identify the intermediate of the reaction. Upon CO adsorption U cations in low oxidation states are oxidized to U4+ ions; this was accompanied by an increase of the O-to-U surface ratios. The HRYPS C 1s lines show the presence of adsorbed species assigned to diolate species (-OCH=CHO-) that are most likely the reaction intermediate in the coupling of two CO molecules to acetylene and ethylene.
- McMurry reaction
- uranium oxides