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J Chem Phys. 2007 Dec 28;127(24):244708. doi: 10.1063/1.2806802.

Density functional study of the interaction between small Au clusters, Au(n) (n=1-7) and the rutile TiO2 surface. II. Adsorption on a partially reduced surface.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA.


We use density functional theory to examine the electronic structure of small Au(n) (n=1-7) clusters, supported on a rutile TiO(2)(110) surface having oxygen vacancies on the surface (a partially reduced surface). Except for the monomer, the binding energy of all Au clusters to the partially reduced surface is larger by approximately 0.25 eV than the binding energy to a stoichiometric surface. The bonding site and the orientation of the cluster are controlled by the shape of the highest occupied molecular orbitals (HOMOs) of the free cluster (free cluster means a gas-phase cluster with the same geometry as the supported one). The bond is strong when the lobes of the HOMOs overlap with those of the high-energy states of the clean oxide surface (i.e., with no gold) that have lobes on the bridging and the in-plane oxygen atoms. In other words, the cluster takes a shape and a location that optimizes the contact of its HOMOs with the oxygen atoms. Fivefold coordinated Ti atoms located at a defect site (5c-Ti(*)) participate in the binding only when a protruding lobe of the singly occupied molecular orbital (for odd n) or the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (for even n) of the free Au(n) cluster points toward a 5c-Ti(*) atom. The oxygen vacancy influences the binding energy of the clusters (except for Au(1)) only when they are in direct contact with the defect. The desorption energy and the total charge on clusters that are close to, but do not overlap with, the vacancy differ little from the values they have when the cluster is adsorbed on a stoichiometric surface. The behavior of Au(1) is rather remarkable. The atom prefers to bind directly to the vacancy site with a binding energy of 1.81 eV. However, it also makes a strong bond (1.21 eV) with any 5c-Ti atom even if that atom is far from the vacancy site. In contrast, the binding of a Au monomer to the 5c-Ti atom of a surface without vacancies is weak (0.45 eV). The presence of the vacancy activates the 5c-Ti atoms by populating states at the bottom of the conduction band. These states are delocalized and have lobes protruding out of the surface at the location of the 5c-Ti atoms. It is the overlap of these lobes with the highest orbital of the Au atom that is the major reason for the bonding to the 5c-Ti atom, no matter how far the latter is from the vacancy. The energy for breaking an adsorbed cluster into two adsorbed fragments is smaller than the kinetic energy of the mass-selected clusters deposited on the surface in experiments. However, this is not sufficient for breaking the cluster upon impact with the surface, since only a fraction of the available energy will go into the reaction coordinate for breakup.

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