Surface faceting and elemental diffusion behaviour at atomic scale for alloy nanoparticles during in situ annealing

Miaofang Chi, Chao Wang, Yinkai Lei, Guofeng Wang, Dongguo Li, Karren L. More, Andrew Lupini, Lawrence F. Allard, Nenad M. Markovic, Vojislav R. Stamenkovic, 2015

Abstract

The catalytic performance of nanoparticles is primarily determined by the precise nature of the surface and near-surface atomic configurations, which can be tailored by post-synthesis annealing effectively and straightforwardly. Understanding the complete dynamic response of surface structure and chemistry to thermal treatments at the atomic scale is imperative for the rational design of catalyst nanoparticles. Here, by tracking the same individual Pt3Co nanoparticles during in situ annealing in a scanning transmission electron microscope, we directly discern five distinct stages of surface elemental rearrangements in Pt3Co nanoparticles at the atomic scale: initial random (alloy) elemental distribution; surface platinum-skin-layer formation; nucleation of structurally ordered domains; ordered framework development and, finally, initiation of amorphization. Furthermore, a comprehensive interplay among phase evolution, surface faceting and elemental inter-diffusion is revealed, and supported by atomistic simulations. This work may pave the way towards designing catalysts through post-synthesis annealing for optimized catalytic performance.

Impact Statement

By tracking the same individual Pt3Co nanoparticles during in situ annealing in a scanning transmission electron microscope, the authors directly discern five distinct stages of surface elemental rearrangements in Pt3Co nanoparticles at the atomic scale.