Catalytic reactions occurring on oxide-supported Cu and Cu-supported oxide catalysts are of fundamental interest in both industrial and scientific fields. Though the interface between Cu and oxide species has been regarded as the reaction site, the exact role of the interface in the catalytic reactions is not fully understood yet. In this work, by using a model system including CuO chains supported on Cu(1 1 0) and an organic molecule with alkynyl and aldehyde groups, we attempted to obtain a fundamental understanding of the role of the interface in the catalytic reactions. A combination of high-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy imaging and density functional theory calculations provided direct evidence at the atomic scale that the interface between the CuO chains and the Cu(1 1 0) surface is the most favorable site for the adsorption and activation of organic molecules, and the oxygen of CuO has an activity to oxidize both the alkynyl and aldehyde groups of the molecules adsorbed at the interface.
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