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J Am Chem Soc. 2002 Jan 23;124(3):503-10.

From local adsorption stresses to chiral surfaces: (R,R)-tartaric acid on Ni(110).

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Leverhulme Centre for Innovative Catalysis and Surface Science Research Centre, Department of Chemistry, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZD, United Kingdom.


The chiral molecule (R,R)-tartaric acid adsorbed on nickel surfaces creates highly enantioselective heterogeneous catalysts, but the nature of chiral modification remains unknown. Here, we report on the behavior of this chiral molecule with a defined Ni(110) surface. A combination of reflection absorption infrared spectroscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy, and periodic density functional theory calculations reveals a new mode of chiral induction. At room temperatures and low coverages, (R,R)-tartaric acid is adsorbed in its bitartrate form with two-point bonding to the surface via both carboxylate groups. The molecule is preferentially located above the 4-fold hollow site with each carboxylate functionality adsorbed at the short bridge site via O atoms placed above adjacent Ni atoms. However, repulsive interactions between the chiral OH groups of the molecule and the metal atoms lead to severely strained adsorption on the bulk-truncation Ni(110) surface. As a result, the most stable adsorption structure is one in which this adsorption-induced stress is alleviated by significant relaxation of surface metal atoms so that a long distance of 7.47 A between pairs of Ni atoms can be accommodated at the surface. Interestingly, this leads the bonding Ni atoms to describe a chiral footprint at the surface for which all local mirror symmetry planes are destroyed. Calculations show only one chiral footprint to be favored by the (R,R)-tartaric acid, with the mirror adsorption site being unstable by 6 kJ mol(-1). This energy difference is sufficient to enable the same local chiral reconstruction and motif to be sustained over 90% of the system, leading to an overall highly chiral metal surface.

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