Carbon-halogen bond dissociation on copper surfaces: Effect of alkyl chain length

Jong-Liang Lin, Brian E. Bent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


Carbon-halogen bond dissociation in a series of straight-chain alkyl halides adsorbed on single crystal copper surfaces has been studied by high-resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy, temperature-programmed desorption, and work-function measurements. For two or more carbons in the alkyl chain, the rate of carbon-halogen (C-X) bond dissociation is independent of chain length, despite the fact that the heat of molecular adsorption (assuming a first-order preexponential factor of 1013 s-1 for desorption) increases at the rate of 1.3 ± 0.2 (kcal/mol)/CH2 group. The combination of these two effects produces a sharp transition in the branching between desorption and decomposition as a function of alkyl chain length. For alkyl chlorides the surface reaction path switches from desorption to decomposition between C6 and C7; for the alkyl bromides the transition is between C2 and C3. All of the alkyl iodides decompose. The C-X bond dissociation rates decrease in the order C-I > C-Br > C-Cl, and the activation energies for C-X bond scission are approximately 15% of the gas-phase bond energies in each case. The chain length dependence for the heat of adsorption suggests that the molecularly adsorbed alkyl halides bind with their carbon chains approximately parallel to the surface plane, while surface vibrational spectra indicate that the alkyl groups formed by carbon-halogen bond scission reorient to stand upright on the surface. The independence of the C-X bond dissociation rate on alkyl chain length suggests that reorientation of the carbon chain occurs after the transition state for C-X bond scission. The results are rationalized by using a modified Lennard-Jones picture of dissociative adsorption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8529-8538
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1992 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Carbon-halogen bond dissociation on copper surfaces: Effect of alkyl chain length'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this