Helping palladium atoms stand apart

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Science  24 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6208, pp. 436-437
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6208.436-d

Precious metals used in industrial catalysts are dispersed on metal oxide “supports” to increase the number of metal atoms in contact with reactants. Achieving the maximum dispersion—as single atoms or ions—usually requires metals (such as rare earths) that can change their oxidation state, but these oxides can be more expensive than the more common silicon and aluminum oxides. Peterson et al. show how lanthanum, added in small amounts to the gamma phase of aluminum oxide to stabilize it at high temperatures, also stabilizes palladium as single Pd+ ions. For oxidation of CO to CO2, this catalyst becomes active at lower temperatures (as low as 40°C) than one made with pure aluminum oxide. Deactivation of the catalysts could be reversed by reoxidation at 700°C.

Nat. Commun. 10.1038/ncomm5885 (2014).

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