Nano-structured materials hold promise for improving catalyst activity and selectivity, but little is known about the dynamic compositional and structural changes that these systems undergo during pre-treatment, which leads to efficient catalyst function. (A catalyst is a substance that enables a chemical reaction to proceed at a usually faster rate or under different conditions than otherwise possible.)
The team used ozone-activated silver-gold alloys in the form of nanoporous gold (npAu) as a case study to demonstrate the dynamic behavior of bi-metallic systems during activation to produce a functioning catalyst.
Nanoporous gold, a porous metal, can be used in electrochemical sensors, catalytic platforms, fundamental structure property studies at the nanoscale and tunable drug release. It also features high effective surface area, tunable pore size, well-defined conjugate chemistry, high electrical conductivity and compatibility with traditional fabrication techniques.
“Our results demonstrate that characterization of these dynamic changes is necessary to unlock the full potential of bi-metallic catalytic materials,” Biener said.
The research appears in the Dec. 19 edition of the journal, Nature Materials(link is external). Other institutions include: Harvard University(link is external), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory(link is external) and Brookhaven National Laboratory(link is external).