Elucidating the electronic structure of supported gold nanoparticles and its relevance to catalysis by means of hard X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

Benjamin N. Reinecke , Kendra P. Kuhl, Hirohito Ogasawara, Lin Li, Johannes Voss, Frank Abild-Pedersen, Anders Nilsson, Thomas F. Jaramillo
Year of publication: 
Surface Science

We report on the electronic structure of Au (gold) nanoparticles supported onto TiO2 with a goal of elucidating the most important effects that contribute to their high catalytic activity. We synthesize and characterize with high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) 3.4, 5.3, and 9.5 nm diameter TiO2-supported Au nanoparticles with nearly spherical shape and measure their valence band using Au 5d subshell sensitive hard X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (HAXPES) conducted at Spring-8. Based on density functional theory (DFT) calculations of various Au surface structures, we interpret the observed changes in the Au 5d valence band structure as a function of size in terms of an increasing percentage of Au atoms at corners/edges for decreasing particle size. This work elucidates how Au coordination number impacts the electronic structure of Au nanoparticles, ultimately giving rise to their well-known catalytic activity.

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