Identification of Active Gold Nanoclusters on Iron Oxide Supports for CO Oxidation

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Science  05 Sep 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5894, pp. 1331-1335
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159639

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Gold nanocrystals absorbed on metal oxides have exceptional properties in oxidation catalysis, including the oxidation of carbon monoxide at ambient temperatures, but the identification of the active catalytic gold species among the many present on real catalysts is challenging. We have used aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy to analyze several iron oxide–supported catalyst samples, ranging from those with little or no activity to others with high activities. High catalytic activity for carbon monoxide oxidation is correlated with the presence of bilayer clusters that are ∼0.5 nanometer in diameter and contain only ∼10 gold atoms. The activity of these bilayer clusters is consistent with that demonstrated previously with the use of model catalyst systems.

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