Active site localization of methane oxidation on Pt nanocrystals

D Kim and M Chung and J Carnis and S Kim and K Yun and J Kang and W Cha and MJ Cherukara and E Maxey and R Harder and K Sasikumar and SKRS Sankaranarayanan and A Zozulya and M Sprung and D Riu and H Kim, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 9, 3422 (2018).

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05464-2

High catalytic efficiency in metal nanocatalysts is attributed to large surface area to volume ratios and an abundance of under-coordinated atoms that can decrease kinetic barriers. Although overall shape or size changes of nanocatalysts have been observed as a result of catalytic processes, structural changes at low-coordination sites such as edges, remain poorly understood. Here, we report high-lattice distortion at edges of Pt nanocrystals during heterogeneous catalytic methane oxidation based on in situ 3D Bragg coherent X-ray diffraction imaging. We directly observe contraction at edges owing to adsorption of oxygen. This strain increases during methane oxidation and it returns to the original state after completing the reaction process. The results are in good agreement with finite element models that incorporate forces, as determined by reactive molecular dynamics simulations. Reaction mechanisms obtained from in situ strain imaging thus provide important insights for improving catalysts and designing future nanostructured catalytic materials.

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