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- Materials Science; heterogeneous catalysis “on demand”; catalytic domains; mechanical deformation; self-assembled monolayer
A metal surface passivated with a tightly packed self-assembled monolayer (SAM) can be made catalytically active upon the metal's mechanical deformation. This deformation renders the SAM sparser and exposes additional catalytic sites on the metal's surface. If the deformation is elastic, return of the metal to the original shape "heals" the SAM and nearly extinguishes the catalytic activity. Kelvin probe force microscopy and theoretical considerations both indicate that the catalytic domains "opening up" in the deformed SAM are of nanoscopic dimensions.