Critical role of oxygen in silver-catalyzed glaser-hay coupling on Ag(100) in vacuum and in solution on Ag particles

Noé Orozco, Georgios Kyriakou, Simon K. Beaumont, Javier Fernández Sanz, Juan P. Holgado, Martin Taylor, Juan Pedro Espinós, Antonio Márquez, David J. Watson, Agustin R. Gonzalez-Elipe, Richard M. Lambert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The essential role of oxygen in enabling heterogeneously catalyzed Glaser-Hay coupling of phenylacetylene on the Ag(100) was elucidated by STM, laboratory and synchrotron photoemission and DFT calculations. In the absence of co-adsorbed oxygen, phenylacetylene formed well-ordered dense overlayers which, with increasing temperature, desorbed without reaction. In striking contrast, even at 120 K, the presence of oxygen led to immediate and complete disruption of the organic layer due to abstraction of acetylenic hydrogen with formation of a disordered mixed layer containing immobile adsorbed phenylacetylide. At higher temperatures phenylacetylide underwent Glaser-Hay coupling to form highly ordered domains of diphenyldiacetylene that eventually desorbed without decomposition leaving the bare metal surface. DFT calculations showed that while acetylenic H abstraction was otherwise an endothermic process, oxygen adatoms triggered a reaction-initiating exothermic pathway leading to OH(a) + phenylacetylide, consistent with the experimental observations. Moreover, it was found that with a solution of phenylacetylene in nonane and in the presence of O2, Ag particles catalyzed Glaser-Hay coupling with high selectivity. Rigorous exclusion of oxygen from the reactor strongly suppressed the catalytic reaction. Interestingly, too much oxygen lowers the selectivity towards diphenyldiacetylene. Thus vacuum studies and theoretical calculations revealed the key role of oxygen in the reaction mechanism, subsequently borne out by catalytic studies with Ag particles that confirmed the presence of oxygen as a necessary and sufficient condition for the coupling reaction to occur. The direct relevance of model studies to mechanistic understanding of coupling reactions under conditions of practical catalysis was reaffirmed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3113-3120
Number of pages8
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number5
Early online date30 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2017

Bibliographical note

This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in ACS Catalysis, copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see [insert ACS Articles on Request author-directed link to


  • C-C bond formation
  • catalysis
  • DFT
  • Glaser-Hay coupling
  • silver surface
  • STM
  • XPS


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