The synthesis of high-value fuels and plastics starting from small hydrocarbon molecules plays a central role in the current transition towards renewable energy. However, the detailed mechanisms driving the growth of hydrocarbon chains remain to a large extent unknown. Here we investigated the formation of hydrocarbon chains resulting from acetylene polymerization on a Ni(111) model catalyst surface. Exploiting X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy up to near-ambient pressures, the intermediate species and reaction products have been identified. Complementary in situ scanning tunneling microscopy observations shed light onto the C−C coupling mechanism. While the step edges of the metal catalyst are commonly assumed to be the active sites for the C−C coupling, we showed that the polymerization occurs instead on the flat terraces of the metallic surface.
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© 2022 The Authors. Angewandte Chemie International Edition published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.
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