Impact of surface mechanics on the reactivity of electrodes
Theory links the reactivity of metal surfaces to the interatomic spacing and, hence, to the tangential strain. We point out that this proposition can be experimentally verified by exploiting a seemingly unrelated phenomenon, the mechanical deformation of solid bodies when charged in an electrolyte. Such experiments allow the strength of coupling between adsorption enthalpy and strain to be quantified. For hydrogen adsorption on Pd, the result agrees with ab initio computation and with trends that can be inferred from experiment on pseudomorphic layers strained by epitaxy with misfitting substrates. The data suggest that experimentally accessible strain values afford a variation of the adatom concentration by several orders of magnitude and a significant shift of the reaction along the 'volcano curve' of reactivity versus adsorption strength. © the Owner Societies.