Thermally stable single-atom platinum-on-ceria catalysts via atom trapping

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Science  08 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6295, pp. 150-154
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8800

Hot single-atom catalysts

For heterogeneous catalysts made from precious metal nanoparticles adsorbed on metal oxides, high temperatures are the enemy. The metal atoms become mobile and the small particles grow larger, causing a loss in surface area and hence in activity. Jones et al. turned this process to their advantage and used these mobile species to create single-atom platinum catalysts. The platinum on alumina supported transfers in air at 800°C to ceria supports to form highly active catalysts with isolated metal cations.

Science, this issue p. 150


Catalysts based on single atoms of scarce precious metals can lead to more efficient use through enhanced reactivity and selectivity. However, single atoms on catalyst supports can be mobile and aggregate into nanoparticles when heated at elevated temperatures. High temperatures are detrimental to catalyst performance unless these mobile atoms can be trapped. We used ceria powders having similar surface areas but different exposed surface facets. When mixed with a platinum/aluminum oxide catalyst and aged in air at 800°C, the platinum transferred to the ceria and was trapped. Polyhedral ceria and nanorods were more effective than ceria cubes at anchoring the platinum. Performing synthesis at high temperatures ensures that only the most stable binding sites are occupied, yielding a sinter-resistant, atomically dispersed catalyst.

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