Ethanol oxidation has been studied on stepped platinum single crystal electrodes in acid media using electrochemical and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) techniques. The electrodes used belong to two different series of stepped surfaces: those having (111) terraces with (100) monoatomic steps and those with (111) terraces with (110) monoatomic steps. The behaviors of the two series of stepped surfaces for the oxidation of ethanol are very different. On the one hand, the presence of (100) steps on the (111) terraces provides no significant enhancement of the activity of the surfaces. On the other hand, (110) steps have a double effect on the ethanol oxidation reaction. At potentials below 0.7 V, the step catalyzes the C-C bond cleavage and also the oxidation of the adsorbed CO species formed. At higher potentials, the step is not only able to break the C-C bond, but also to catalyze the oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid and acetaldehyde. The highest catalytic activity from voltammetry for ethanol oxidation was obtained with the Pt(554) electrode.
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