Predicting metal–metal interactions. I. The influence of strain on nanoparticle and metal adlayer stabilities

verena Streibel, Tej S. Choksi, Frank Abild-Pedersen
Year of publication: 
The Journal of Chemical Physics

Strain-engineering of bimetallic nanomaterials is an important design strategy for developing new catalysts. Herein, we introduce an approach for including strain effects into a recently introduced, density functional theory (DFT)-based alloy stability model. The model predicts adsorption site stabilities in nanoparticles and connects these site stabilities with catalytic reactivity and selectivity. Strain-based dependencies will increase the model’s accuracy for nanoparticles affected by finite-size effects. In addition to the stability of small nanoparticles, strain also influences the heat of adsorption of epitaxially grown metal-on-metal adlayers. In this respect, we successfully benchmark the strain-including alloy stability model with previous experimentally determined trends in the heats of adsorption of Au and Cu adlayers on Pt (111). For these systems, our model predicts stronger bimetallic interactions in the first monolayer than monometallic interactions in the second monolayer. We explicitly quantify the interplay between destabilizing strain effects and the energy gained by forming new metal–metal bonds. While tensile strain in the first Cu monolayer significantly destabilizes the adsorption strength, compressive strain in the first Au monolayer has a minimal impact on the heat of adsorption. Hence, this study introduces and, by comparison with previous experiments, validates an efficient DFT-based approach for strain-engineering the stability, and, in turn, the catalytic performance, of active sites in bimetallic alloys with atomic level resolution.

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