Metal Clusters on Surfaces: Morphology, Stability and Reactivity

The morphology, stability and reactivity of nanometre-sized particles (Au, Pt) is investigated on three different supports. Gold nanoparticles with a diameter comprised between 4 and 6nm are stabilized in nanosized pits of well defined depth in highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG). These pits are produced by creation of artificial defects, followed by etching under a controlled oxygen atmosphere. At low Au coverage, clusters are found on the edges of the hexagonal pits maximizing the contact to dangling bonds on graphite multisteps. Larger coverage results in Au beads of well defined shape and with a constant bead density per unit length. Most remarkable is the stability of these nanostructures under ambient conditions. Temperatures as high as 650 K do not alter the morphology of the gold clusters. Above 700 K, the gold clusters catalyze the etching of graphite layers when heated under atmospheric conditions. The depth of the etching channel is defined by the depth of the pit and the channel width can be controlled by the cluster size. Hydrogen, oxygen and water are dissociated on the Au clusters at low temperatures (> 400 K). CO and CO2 is produced above 700 K which confirms the etching of the multilayer graphene sheets. The so-called water-gas shift reaction has been observed where oxygen and water dissociate on the Au clusters at low temperatures. Thermal desorption spectroscopy (TDS) measurements on the Pt=YSZ system have been performed and the desorption peaks of CO and O2 have been evidenced. Carbon monoxide desorbs from the surface at a temperature of 535 K and oxygen at 705 K, in good agreement with values reported in literature. Catalytic measurements have confirmed the known strong catalytic activity of Pt. The CO oxidation takes place at temperatures between 450 K and 700 K. The adsorption and desorption temperature of the two educts have been confirmed during the catalysis measurements. Size-selected Aun clusters (n = 5, 7) are deposited from the gas phase at room temperature with well-controlled kinetic energy on rutile TiO2 . Two different surface reconstructions have been used as support: TiO2(110) – (1 × 1) and TiO2(110) – (1 × 2). Systematic studies of morphology, stability and adsorption sites have been performed using scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM). The mean size of the clusters is maintained during deposition at a kinetic energy of 7.1eV per atom, indicating that there is no fragmentation. Au clusters are not stable neither on the TiO2(110) – (1 × 1) nor on the TiO2(110) – (1 × 2) reconstruction during annealing of the substrate to 800 K. A progressive transition into a pronounced 3-d formation is observed. The size distribution of the particles is small and the growth mode (Ostwald ripening) independent of the surface reconstruction. The higher corrugation of the TiO2(110) – (1 × 2) reconstruction results in a pronounced stabilization of the clusters on terraces, in contrast to the TiO2(110) – (1 × 1) reconstruction where 90% of the clusters are found on step edges at elevated temperatures. The catalytic activity of the Au clusters sets in during the 2d - 3d transition. These measurements have to be confirmed and a full understanding of the process should be found.

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