Tracking the shape-dependent sintering of platinum–rhodium model catalysts under operando conditions

Result date: 01/01/2016
Author: U. Hejral,
Institute: Universitat Siegen, Fachbereich Physik, Siegen, Germany
Publication: Nature Communications,
Instrument: The VT XA Series
Nanoparticle sintering during catalytic reactions is a major cause for catalyst deactivation. Understanding its atomic-scale processes and finding strategies to reduce it is of paramount scientific and economic interest. Here, we report on the composition-dependent three-dimensional restructuring of epitaxial platinum–rhodium alloy nanoparticles on alumina during carbon monoxide oxidation at 550?K and near-atmospheric pressures employing in situ high-energy grazing incidence x-ray diffraction, online mass spectrometry and a combinatorial sample design. For platinum-rich particles our results disclose a dramatic reaction-induced height increase, accompanied by a corresponding reduction of the total particle surface coverage. We find this restructuring to be progressively reduced for particles with increasing rhodium composition. We explain our observations by a carbon monoxide oxidation promoted non-classical Ostwald ripening process during which smaller particles are destabilized by the heat of reaction. Its driving force lies in the initial particle shape which features for platinum-rich particles a kinetically stabilized, low aspect ratio.