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Oxidation catalysis on Pt and Au: complexity of simple chemistry

Promotor: J.W.M. Frenken Co-Promotores: I.M.N. Groot; L.B.F. Juurlink

M.A. van Spronsen
29 June 2016
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Catalysis is one of the most important technical and scientific developments, on which present-day society is based. For example, it is crucial to the production of fertilizers or clean fuels and needed for the abatement of exhaust gases. Frequently, the employed catalysts are being discovered in a very empirical way; by trial and error. However, designing catalysts based on detailed understanding is preferred. Obtaining understanding is very difficult, because catalysts are very complex materials. Furthermore, its properties often depend on the atmosphere surrounding the catalysts, i.e., the temperature and pressure of reactants and products, which they are exposed to, and these properties also change over time. The major part of this thesis focuses on structural changes of Pt model catalysts exposed to high oxygen pressures at elevated temperatures. The changes were measured with a ReactorSTM, a special version of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) adapted to operate at high pressure and temperatures. These observations show that various surface oxide with a single-layer thickness form under reaction conditions. These oxides are structurally and chemically different from the Pt bulk oxides. The second part describes a set of experiments to understand the role of low-coordinated atoms and water in Au-catalyzed CO oxidation.

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