Universiteit Leiden

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The structure of a working catalyst: from flat surfaces to nanoparticles

Promotor: Prof.dr. J.W.M. Frenken

S.B. Roobol
02 december 2014
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Catalysis is the working horse of the chemical industry. In many cases, it is a poorly understood process taking place at the surfaces of nanoparticles under relatively harsh conditions, such as high pressures and high temperatures. This thesis focuses on new approaches to acquire atomic-scale information on catalytic processes on metal nanoparticles in high-pressure, high-temperature conditions. This thesis starts with a comprehensive approach to the development of novel instruments and methods for in-situ experiments on model catalysts under working conditions. We introduce the ReactorAFM, the world’s first high-pressure, high-temperature non-contact Atomic Force Microscope, and two software packages for data analysis. Next, we have applied several in-situ measurement techniques to study catalytic model systems at atmospheric pressures and elevated temperatures. We describe a study of the interaction of gas mixtures of nitric oxide and hydrogen on the Pt(110) surface, using surface X-ray diffraction. In the next chapter, we used similar mixtures but with a Pt nanoparticle model catalyst in a high-pressure reaction cell in a transmission electron microscope. Lastly, we have applied four in-situ techniques, including our new ReactorAFM, to investigate the role of thin oxide shells in spontaneous reaction oscillations on Pd nanoparticles during the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide