Formation of Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals (EPFRs) on the Phenol-Dosed α-Fe2O3(0001) Surface

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Environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) are a class of toxic air pollutants that are found to form by the chemisorption of substituted aromatic molecules on the surface of metal oxides. In this study, we employ X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS) to perform a temperature-dependent study of phenol adsorption on α-Fe2O3(0001) to probe the radical formation mechanism by monitoring changes in the electronic structure of both the adsorbed phenol and metal oxide substrate. Upon dosing at room temperature, new phenol-derived electronic states have been clearly observed in the UPS spectrum at saturation coverage. However, upon dosing at high temperature (>200 °C), both photoemission techniques have shown distinctive features that strongly suggest electron transfer from adsorbed phenol to Fe2O3surface atoms and consequent formation of a surface radical. Consistent with the experiment, DFT calculations show that phenoxyl adsorption on the iron oxide surface at RT leads to a minor charge transfer to the adsorbed molecule. The experimental findings at high temperatures agree well with the EPFRs’ proposed formation mechanism and can guide future experimental and computational studies.

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Journal of Physical Chemistry C

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