Femtosecond x-ray laser pulses are used to probe the CO oxidation reaction on Ru initiated by an optical laser pulse. On a timescale of a few hundred femtoseconds, the optical laser pulse excites motions of CO and O on the surface allowing the reactants to collide and, with a transient close to a picosecond (ps), new electronic states appear in the O K-edge x-ray absorption spectrum. Density functional theory calculations indicate that these result from changes in the adsorption site and bond-formation between CO and O with a distribution of OC—O bond lengths close to the transition state (TS). After 1 ps 10 % of the CO populate the TS region, which is consistent with predictions based on a quantum oscillator model.
H. Öström, H. Öberg, H. Xin, J. LaRue, M. Beye, M. Dell'Angela, J. Gladh, M. L. Ng, J. A. Sellberg, S. Kaya, F. Sorgenfrei, G. Mercurio, D. Nordlund, W. F. Schlotter, A. Föhlisch, M. Wolf, W. Wurth, M. Persson, J. K. Nørskov, F. Abild-Pedersen, H. Ogasawara, L. G. M Pettersson, A. Nilsson, Probing the Transition State Region in Catalytic CO Oxidation on Ru, Science 2015, 347, 978-982, DOI: 10.1126/science.1261747