Understanding the complementarities of surface-enhanced infrared and Raman spectroscopies in CO adsorption and electrochemical reduction

Xiaoxia Chang, Sudarshan Vijay, Yaran Zhao, Nicholas J. Oliveira, Karen Chan*, Bingjun Xu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Infrared and Raman spectroscopies are often assumed to provide similar insights into heterogeneous reaction mechanisms. This study shows that these techniques provide similar data when CO is strongly bound to a surface, yet distinct subpopulations of CO are probed when binding is weaker. In situ/operando surface enhanced infrared and Raman spectroscopies are widely employed in electrocatalysis research to extract mechanistic information and establish structure-activity relations. However, these two spectroscopic techniques are more frequently employed in isolation than in combination, owing to the assumption that they provide largely overlapping information regarding reaction intermediates. Here we show that surface enhanced infrared and Raman spectroscopies tend to probe different subpopulations of adsorbates on weakly adsorbing surfaces while providing similar information on strongly binding surfaces by conducting both techniques on the same electrode surfaces, i.e., platinum, palladium, gold and oxide-derived copper, in tandem. Complementary density functional theory computations confirm that the infrared and Raman intensities do not necessarily track each other when carbon monoxide is adsorbed on different sites, given the lack of scaling between the derivatives of the dipole moment and the polarizability. Through a comparison of adsorbed carbon monoxide and water adsorption energies, we suggest that differences in the infrared vs. Raman responses amongst metal surfaces could stem from the competitive adsorption of water on weak binding metals. We further determined that only copper sites capable of adsorbing carbon monoxide in an atop configuration visible to the surface enhanced infrared spectroscopy are active in the electrochemical carbon monoxide reduction reaction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2656
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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