The interaction of a de novo synthesised ester with single crystal metal surfaces has been investigated as a model system for the heterogeneous hydrogenolysis of esters. Scanning tunnelling microscopy measurements show dissociative adsorption at room temperature on Cu(110) but no significant reaction on Au(111). The dissociative pathway has been identified by comparing with possible fragment species, demonstrating that the ester cleavage occurs along the RCH(CH3)–OC(O)R bond.
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