Control of Metal Nanocrystal Size Reveals Metal-Support Interface Role for Ceria Catalysts

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Science  16 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6147, pp. 771-773
DOI: 10.1126/science.1240148

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A Measure of Metal-Oxide Interfaces

The rate of a catalytic reaction can sometimes be enhanced by using a different metal oxide as the support for adsorbed metal nanoparticles. Such enhancement is often attributed to more active sites at the metal-oxide interface, but it can be difficult to quantify this effect. Cargnello et al. (p. 771, published online 18 July) synthesized monodisperse nanoparticles of nickel, platinum, and palladium and dispersed them on high-surface-area ceria or alumina supports. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy enabled a detailed analysis of interfacial site structure, which showed that the rate of CO oxidation on ceria was indeed enhanced greatly at interface sites.


Interactions between ceria (CeO2) and supported metals greatly enhance rates for a number of important reactions. However, direct relationships between structure and function in these catalysts have been difficult to extract because the samples studied either were heterogeneous or were model systems dissimilar to working catalysts. We report rate measurements on samples in which the length of the ceria-metal interface was tailored by the use of monodisperse nickel, palladium, and platinum nanocrystals. We found that carbon monoxide oxidation in ceria-based catalysts is greatly enhanced at the ceria-metal interface sites for a range of group VIII metal catalysts, clarifying the pivotal role played by the support.

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