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Peter McBreen

Bureau: Pavillon A.-Vachon, 1459
Téléphone: 418-656-7867
Télécopieur: 418-656-7916
Courriel: peter.mcbreen@chm.ulaval.ca
Membre régulier du CERPIC


Curriculum Vitae

B.Sc. University College Dublin, Ireland (1971-75)
Ph.D. University of Toronto, Canada (1976-1981)
Post-doc. Surface Science Institute (IGV), Julich, Germany (1981-83)
Materials Science Department, University of Ben Gurion, Israel (1984-85)

Research Interests

We use surface spectroscopy and scanning tunneling microscopy to study the chemical reactivity of catalytic surfaces. Our research strives to provide a basic understanding of surface reactions at the molecular level, provides new chemical method to manipulate nanostructures and delves into the junction of organometallic and heterogeneous catalysis.

 Our current research deals with the following subjects :

  • Methods to induce stereodirection on surfaces.
  • Molecular level studies of 2-D self-assemblies.
  • Heterogeneous metathesis reactions.

Research Activities

Controlling surface chemical reaction selectivity:
Surfaces form reactive environments because they have weak coordination numbers. This further complicates the creation of surfaces with selective reactivity. Part of our research explores the idea to orient a particular enantioface of a certain prochiral group towards the catalyst’s surface. The following links provide a few examples of our work in chiral catalysis:

Another challenge lies in selectively forming a specific type of chemical bond with a surface. In particular, it is extremely laborious to form a double bound with a single atom on the surface. This problem arises because surfaces present a network of neighbouring sites, which allow simultaneous bounds with several surface atoms. We previously showed a method to form double bound with a molybdenum carbide surface and established that surface alkyliden group (Mo=CR1R2) are active for olefin metathesis. Olefin metathesis is a beautiful and powerful synthetic method, as acknowledged by the 2005 Nobel Prize for Chemistry awarded to Grubbs, Shrock and Chauvin. The following link gives few examples of our studies:


Selective intramolecular chemistry can be used to prepare molecularly determined patterns on surfaces. This field of research is named bi-dimensional self-assembly. For our research, we use scanning tunneling microscopy, an extremely powerful technique to study how molecules are linked together on the surface at a submolecular level. 


‘’I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.’’

-Isaac Newton


Representative publications

  • Vincent Demers-Carpentier, Guillaume Goubert, Federico Masini, Raphael Lafleur-Lambert, Yi Dong, Stephane Lavoie, Gautier Mahieu, John Boukouvalas,Haili Gao, Anton Rasmussen, Lara Ferrighi, Yunxiang Pan, Bjørk Hammer, Peter McBreen; «Direct Observation of Molecular Preorganization for Chirality Transfer on a Catalyst Surface», Science, 2011, 334, 776.
  • Vincent Demers-Carpentier, Guillaume Goubert, Federico Masini, Yi Dong, Anton Rasmussen, Bjørk Hammer, Peter McBreen; «STM Measurements of the Full Cycle of an Heterogeneous Asymmetric Hydrogenation Reaction on Chirally Modified Pt(111)», Journal of physical Chemistry Letters, 20113 (1), pp 92–96 .
  • Jean Brunelle, Vincent Demers-Carpentier, Raphael Lafleur-Lambert, Gautier Mahieu, Guillaume Goubert, Stephane Lavoie, Peter McBreen; «Disrupting Aryl-CH…O Interactions on Pt(111) Through the Coadsorption of Trifluoroacetic Acid and 2,2,2-Trifluoroacetophenone (TFAP): Inhibition of Competing Processes in Heterogeneous Asymmetric Catalysis», Topics in Catalysis, 2011, 54, 1334.
  • Guillaume Goubert, Vincent Demers-Carpentier, Federico Masini, Yi Dong, Jean-Christian Lemay, Peter McBreen; «Weak Interactions in the Assembly of Strongly Chemisorbed Molecules», Chemical Communnications, 2011, 47, 9113.
  • Vincent Demers-Carpentier, Peter McBreen; «Surface Vibrational Spectroscopy Study of Benzene and 2,2,2-Trifluoroacetophenone on Pt(111) », Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2011, 115, 6513.
  • Vincent Demers-Carpentier, Marc-Andre Laliberte, Stephane Lavoie, Gautier Mahieu, Peter McBreen; «Two-Dimensional Self-Assembly and Catalytic Function: Conversion of Chiral Alcohols into Self-Assembled Enols on Pt(111) », Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2010, 114 , 7291-7298.
  • Israel Temprano, Guillaume Goubert, Gavin Behan, Hongzhou Zhang, Peter McBreen; «Spectroscopic and Structural Characterization of the Formation of Olefin Metathesis Initiating Sites on Unsupported β-Mo2C», Catalysis Science&Technology, 2011, 1, 1449.
  • Mohamed Siaj, Nathalie Dubuc, Peter McBreen; «Olefin-Metathesis Activity of Double Bond Contacts to a Conducting Solid: Alkylidenes on β-Mo2C», Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2009, 113, 1233
  • Marc-André Laliberté, Stéphane Lavoie, Bjørk Hammer, Gautier Mahieu and Peter H. McBreen; «Activation in Prochiral Reaction Assemblies on Pt(111)», Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2008, 130, 5386.
  • Stéphane Lavoie, Marc-André Laliberté, Gautier Mahieu, Vincent Demers-Carpentier, and Peter McBreen; «Keto-Enol Driven Assembly of Methyl Pyruvate on Pt(111)», Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2007, 129, 11668.
  • Stéphane Lavoie, Gautier Mahieu and Peter H. McBreen; «Chemisorption-Induced Double Hydrogen Bonding, Self-Assembly, and Stereoselection», Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2006, 45, 7404.
  • Stephane Lavoie, Marc-Andre Laliberte, Israel Temprano and Peter H. McBreen; «A Generalized Two-Point H-Bonding Model for Catalytic Stereoselective Hydrogenation of Activated Ketones on Chirally Modified Platinum», Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2006, 128, 7588.
  • Mohamed Siaj and Peter H. McBreen; «Creating, Varying, and Growing Single-Site Molecular Contacts», Science, 2005, 309, 588.

  • El Mamoune Zahidi, Hicham Oudghiri-Hassani and Peter.H. McBreen; «Formation of Thermally Stable Alkylidene Layers on a Catalytically Active Surface», Nature, 2001, 409, 1023.

Chemistry Department - Peter McBreen's Laboratory - Surface Chemistry
1459, Pavillon Alexandre-Vachon - Québec (Québec) Canada G1K 7P4
Telephone : 418 656-3282 Fax : 418 656-7916 Email : peter.mcbreen@chm.ulaval.ca
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