Date of Award

Spring 4-2015

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemical Engineering


Andrew Gellman


There are many reactions that are sensitive to the surface structure of a catalyst. In order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of structure sensitive surface chemistry we use Surface Structure Spread Single Crystals (S4Cs) that expose a continuous distribution of crystal planes across their surfaces. Those crystal planes that lack mirror symmetry contain terraces, monatomic steps, and kinks and can be described as chiral with an R or an S orientation. When coupled with spatially resolved surface analysis techniques, S4Cs can be used to study the effects of surface structure and chirality on surface chemistry across a continuous distribution of crystal planes. A set of six Cu S4Cs has been created that spans all possible crystal planes of Cu. The Cu(111) S4C was used to study the structure sensitivity of L- and D-tartaric acid (TA) decomposition and the Cu(100) S4C was used to study the structure sensitivity of L-4-13C and D-aspartic acid (AA) decomposition. Isothermal Temperature Programmed Reaction Spectroscopy (TPRS) was implemented in which the S4Cs with monolayers of TA and AA were held at a temperature below the temperature of peak decomposition observed in a standard TPR experiment (heating at 1 K/s). At various times during isothermal heating, the surface was cooled to quench the reaction. Spatially resolved X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) was performed to identify those regions on the surface in which the adsorbates had decomposed and those in which they were still intact. On the Cu(111) S4C which exposes both (100) and (110) step edges, TA decomposition is most sensitive to the density of (100) steps. AA decomposition on the Cu(100) S4C was enantioselective: L-AA-4-13C decomposed on S surfaces before R surfaces while D-AA decomposed on R surfaces before S surfaces. The decomposition of CH3CH2OH, CD3CD2OD, and CF3CH2OH on Zn was studied using temperature programmed reaction spectroscopy (TPRS). The decomposition products of each reaction were determined and a reaction mechanism was proposed for CH3CH2OH decomposition based on the product ratios and peak temperature locations. The CH3CH2OH decomposition mechanism includes the formation of two intermediate species on the surface: CH3CH2- to form CH2=CH2 and CH3CH2O- to form CH3CH=O.