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  1. Mechanochemical reaction pathways are conventionally obtained from force-displaced stationary points on the potential energy surface of the reaction. This work tests a postulate that the steepest-descent pathway (SDP) from the transition state to reactants can be reasonably accurately used instead to investigate mechanochemical reaction kinetics. This method is much simpler because the SDP and the associated reactant and transition-state structures can be obtained relatively routinely. Experiment and theory are compared for the normal-stress-induced decomposition of methyl thiolate species on Cu(100). The mechanochemical reaction rate was calculated by compressing the initial- and transition-state structures by a stiff copper counter-slab to obtain the plots of energy versus slab displacement for both structures. The reaction rate was also measured experimentally under compression using a nanomechanochemical reactor comprising an atomic-force-microscopy (AFM) instrument tip compressing a methyl thiolate overlayer on Cu(100) (the same system for which the calculations were carried out). The rate was measured from the indent created on a defect-free region of the methyl thiolate overlayer, which also enabled the contact area to be measured. Knowing the force applied by the AFM tip yields the reaction rate as a function of the contact stress. The result agrees well with the theoretical prediction without the use of adjustable parameters. This confirms that the postulate is correct and will facilitate the calculation of the rates of more complex mechanochemical reactions. An advantage of this approach, in addition to the results agreeing with the experiment, is that it provides insights into the effects that control mechanochemical reactivity that will assist in the targeted design of new mechanochemical syntheses. 
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  2. Abstract

    Chiral modifiers of heterogeneous catalysts can function as activity promotors to minimize the influence of unmodified sites on the enantiomeric excess to obtain highly enantioselective catalysts. However, the origin on this effect is not well understood. It is investigated using a model catalyst of R‐(+)‐1‐(1‐naphthyl)‐ethylamine (R‐1‐NEA)/Pd(111) for the hydrogenation of methyl pyruvate (MP) to methyl lactate (ML). The activity of the model catalyst remains constant for multiple turnovers. No rate enhancement is found for R‐1‐NEA coverages below ∼0.5 monolayer (ML), but a significant increase is found at R‐1‐NEA coverages of ∼0.75 ML, with a rate approximately twice that of the unmodified catalyst. This is investigated using infrared spectroscopy to distinguish between MP monomers and dimers. MP titration experiments with hydrogen show a half‐order hydrogen pressure dependence, with the monomer reacting at twice the rate as the dimer. It is found that the dimer is the most abundant species on clean Pd(111), but the ratio of monomers to dimers increases as the R‐1‐NEA coverage increases due to surface crowding. The monomeric species is also found to be more stable on the crowded surface than on clean Pd(111); the chiral modifier also serves to stabilize the reactant. Finally, this model nicely explains the unusual 1‐NEA‐covergae dependence of the reactivity.

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  3. null (Ed.)
  4. Mechano- or tribochemical processes are often induced by the large pressures, of the order of 1 GPa, exerted at contacting asperities at the solid–solid interface. These tribochemical process are not very well understood because of the difficulties of probing surface-chemical reaction pathways occurring at buried interfaces. Here, strategies for following surface reaction pathways in detail are illustrated for the tribochemical decomposition of 7-octenoic and octanoic acid adsorbed on copper. The chemistry was measured in ultrahigh vacuum by sliding either a tungsten carbide ball or a silicon atomic force microscope (AFM) tip over the surface to test a previous proposal that the nature of the terminal group in the carboxylic acid, vinyl versus alkyl, could influence its binding to the counterface, and therefore the reaction rate. The carboxylic acids bind strongly to the copper substrate as carboxylates to expose the hydrocarbon terminus. The tribochemical reaction rate was found to be independent of the nature of the hydrocarbon terminus, although the pull-off and friction forces measured by the AFM were different. The tribochemical reaction is initiated in the same way as the thermal reaction, by the carboxylate group tilting to eliminate carbon dioxide and deposit alkyl species onto the surface. This reaction occurs thermally at ∼640 K, but tribochemically at room temperature, producing significant differences in the rates and selectivities of the subsequent decomposition pathways of the adsorbed products. 
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  5. The effect of the terminal groups on the nature of the films formed by the thermal decomposition of carboxylic acids on copper is studied in ultrahigh vacuum using temperature-programmed desorption (TPD), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES). The influence of the presence of vinyl or alkynyl terminal groups and chain length is studied using heptanoic, octanoic, 6-heptenoic, 7-octenoic, 6-heptynoic and 7-octynoic acids. The carboxylic acids form strongly bound carboxylates following adsorption on copper at room temperature, and thermally decompose between ∼500 and 650 K. Previous work has shown that this occurs by the carboxylate plane tilting towards the surface to eliminate carbon dioxide and deposit a hydrocarbon fragment. The fragment can react to evolve hydrogen or form oligomeric species on the surface, where the amount of carbon increases for carboxylic acids that contain terminal functional groups that can anchor to the surface. These results will be used to compare with the carbonaceous films formed by the mechanochemical decomposition of carboxylic acids on copper, which occurs at room temperature. This is expected to lead to less carbon being deposited on the surface than during thermal decomposition. 
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