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  1. Interactions of N2 at oxide surfaces are important for understanding electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) mechanisms. Interactions of N2 at the polycrystalline vanadium oxide/vapor interface were monitored at room temperature and total pressures up to 10−1 Torr using Near-Ambient Pressure X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (NAP-XPS). The oxide film was predominantly V(IV), with V(III) and V(V) components. XPS spectra were acquired in environments of both pure N2 and equal pressures of N2 and H2O vapor. In pure N2, broad, partially resolved N1s features were observed at binding energies of 401.0 and 398.7 eV, with a relative intensity of ∼3:1, respectively. These features remained upon subsequent pumpdown to 10−9 Torr. The observed maximum N surface coverage was ∼1.5 × 1013 cm−2—a fraction of a monolayer. In the presence of equal pressures of H2O, the adsorbed N intensity at 10−1 Torr is ∼25% of that observed in the absence of H2O. The formation of molecularly adsorbed H2O was also observed. Density functional theory-based calculations suggest favorable absorption energies for N2 bonding to both V(IV) and V(III) cation sites but less so for V(V) sites. Hartree–Fock-based cluster calculations for N2–V end-on adsorption show that experimental XPS doublet features are consistent with the calculated shake-up and normal, final ionic configurations for N2 end-on bonding to V(III) sites but not V(IV) sites. The XPS spectra of vanadium oxide transferred in situ between electrochemical and UHV environments indicate that the oxide surfaces studied here are stable upon exposure to the electrolyte under NRR-relevant conditions.

     
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  2. null (Ed.)
    α-substituted ketones are important chemical targets as synthetic intermediates as well as functionalities in in natural products and pharmaceuticals. We report the sp3 C-H α-acetylation of sp3 C-H substrates R-H with arylmethyl ketones ArC(O)Me to provide α-alkylated ketones ArC(O)CH2R at RT with tBuOOtBu as oxidant via copper(I) β-diketiminato catalysts. Proceeding via alkyl radicals R•, this method enables α-substitution with bulky substituents without competing elimination that occurs in more traditional alkylation reactions between enolates and alkyl electrophiles. DFT studies suggest the intermediacy of copper(II) enolates [CuII](CH2C(O)Ar) that capture alkyl radicals R• to give R-CH2C(O)Ar under competing dimerization of the copper(II) enolate to give the 1,4-diketone ArC(O)CH2CH2C(O)Ar. 
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