Unveiling the CO Oxidation Mechanism over a Molecularly Defined Copper Single-Atom Catalyst Supported on a Metal-Organic Framework

Elucidating the reaction mechanism in heterogeneous catalysis is critically important for catalyst development, yet remains challenging because of the often unclear nature of the active sites. Using a molecularly defined copper single-atom catalyst supported by a UiO-66 metal-organic framework (Cu/UiO-66) allows a detailed mechanistic elucidation of the CO oxidation reaction. Based on a combination of in situ/operando spectroscopies, kinetic measurements including kinetic isotope effects, and density-functional-theory-based calculations, we identified the active site, reaction intermediates, and transition states of the dominant reaction cycle as well as the changes in oxidation/spin state during reaction. The reaction involves the continuous reactive dissociation of adsorbed O2 , by reaction of O2,ad with COad , leading to the formation of an O atom connecting the Cu center with a neighboring Zr4+ ion as the rate limiting step. This is removed in a second activated step.


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