Journal article

Quantum-state-resolved reactivity of overtone excited CH4 on Ni(111): Comparing experiment and theory

Quantum state resolved reactivity measurements probe the role of vibrational symmetry on the vibrational activation of the dissociative chemisorption of CH4 on Ni(111). IR-IR double resonance excitation in a molecular beam was used to prepare CH4 in three different vibrational symmetry components, A1, E, and F2, of the 2ν3 antisymmetric stretch overtone vibration as well as in the ν1 + ν3 symmetric plus antisymmetric C–H stretch combination band of F2 symmetry. The quantum state specific dissociation probability S0 (sticking coefficient) was measured for each of the four vibrational states by detecting chemisorbed carbon on Ni(111) as the product of CH4 dissociation by Auger electron spectroscopy. We observe strong mode specificity, where S0 for the most reactive state ν1 + ν3 is an order of magnitude higher than for the least reactive, more energetic 2ν3-E state. Our first principles quantum scattering calculations show that as molecules in the ν1 state approach the surface, the vibrational amplitude becomes localized on the reacting C–H bond, making them very reactive. This behavior results from the weakening of the reacting C–H bond as the molecule approaches the surface, decoupling its motion from the three non-reacting C–H stretches. Similarly, we find that overtone normal mode states with more ν1 character are more reactive: S0(2ν1) > S0(ν1 + ν3) > S0(2ν3). The 2ν3 eigenstates excited in the experiment can be written as linear combinations of these normal mode states. The highly reactive 2ν1 and ν1 + ν3 normal modes, being of A1 and F2 symmetry, can contribute to the 2ν3-A1 and 2ν3-F2 eigenstates, respectively, boosting their reactivity over the E component, which contains no ν1 character due to symmetry.

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