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A cooperation of neighboring rhodium atoms in catalysis is prevented by the incorporation of tin atoms into the surface of an SiO2-supported rhodium catalyst in accord with equation (a). This manifests itself for example in the absence (IR) of bridged CO ligands after chemisorption of CO on the Rh/Sn/SiO2 catalyst, and leads to an increase in selectivity in the hydrogenation of ethyl acetate: The amount of ethanol increases from 57.2 (Sn/Rh = 0/1) to 97.2% (Sn/Rh = 1.7/1). At the same time the conversion of ethyl acetate increases from 1.32 to 4.66%.