The first measurement of a turnover rate with respect to surface intermediate concentration in a high pressure heterogeneous catalytic reaction is reported. By using infrared-visible sum frequency generation to study the hydrogenation of ethylene on Pt(111), it was found that the surface concentration of π-bonded ethylene, the key reaction intermediate, represented approximately 4% of a monolayer. Thus the absolute turnover rate per surface adsorbed ethylene molecule is 25 times faster than the rate measured per platinum atom. To explain these results, we propose a model of weakly adsorbed ethylene intermediates reacting on atop sites.
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