The Born-Oppenheimer approximation of uncoupled electronic and nuclear motion is a standard tool of the computational chemist. However, its validity for molecule-metal surface reactions, which are important to heterogeneous catalysis, has been questioned because of the possibility of electron-hole pair excitations. We have performed experiments and calculations on the scattering of molecular hydrogen from a catalytically relevant metal surface, obtaining absolute probabilities for changes in the molecule's velocity parallel to the representative Pt(111) surface. The comparison for in-plane and out-of-plane scattering and results for dissociative chemisorption in the same system show that for hydrogen-metal systems, reaction and diffractive scattering can be accurately described using the Born-Oppenheimer approximation.
|Publication status||Published - 2006|