Dynamic structural evolution of supported palladium-ceria core-shell catalysts revealed by in situ electron microscopy

Zhang, S., Chen, C., Cargnello, M., Fornasiero, P., Gorte, R. J., Graham, G. W. and Pan, X., 2015
HAADF of high-surface-area alumina-supported Pd@CeO2
Image courtesy of Nat. Commun.

Abstract

The exceptional activity for methane combustion of modular palladium-ceria core-shell subunits on silicon-functionalized alumina that was recently reported has created renewed interest in the potential of core–shell structures as catalysts. Here we report on our use of advanced ex situ and in situ electron microscopy with atomic resolution to show that the modular palladium-ceria core-shell subunits undergo structural evolution over a wide temperature range. In situ observations performed in an atmospheric gas cell within this temperature range provide real-time evidence that the palladium and ceria nanoparticle constituents of the palladium-ceria core-shell participate in a dynamical process that leads to the formation of an unanticipated structure comprised of an intimate mixture of palladium, cerium, silicon and oxygen, with very high dispersion. This finding may open new perspectives about the origin of the activity of this catalyst.

Impact Statement

Report on use of advanced ex situ and in situ electron microscopy with atomic resolution to show that the modular palladium-ceria core-shell subunits undergo structural evolution over a wide temperature range. In situ observations performed in an atmospheric gas cell within this temperature range provide real-time evidence that the palladium and ceria nanoparticle constituents of the palladium-ceria core-shell participate in a dynamical process that leads to the formation of an unanticipated structure comprised of an intimate mixture of palladium, cerium, silicon and oxygen, with very high dispersion.