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Visualizing Gas Molecules Interacting with Supported Nanoparticulate Catalysts at Reaction Conditions

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Science  20 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6066, pp. 317-319
DOI: 10.1126/science.1213194

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Abstract

Understanding how molecules can restructure the surfaces of heterogeneous catalysts under reaction conditions requires methods that can visualize atoms in real space and time. We applied a newly developed aberration-corrected environmental transmission electron microscopy to show that adsorbed carbon monoxide (CO) molecules caused the {100} facets of a gold nanoparticle to reconstruct during CO oxidation at room temperature. The CO molecules adsorbed at the on-top sites of gold atoms in the reconstructed surface, and the energetic favorability of this reconstructed structure was confirmed by ab initio calculations and image simulations. This atomic-scale visualizing method can be applied to help elucidate reaction mechanisms in heterogeneous catalysis.

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