A distinct atomic structure–catalytic activity relationship in 3–10 nm supported Au particles†
Bulk Au is very inert but Au nanoparticles less than 5 nm in size have been found to be catalytically active for several reactions, in particular for low-temperature oxidation of CO. Using high-energy X-ray diffraction coupled with atomic pair distribution function analysis and computer simulations we determine the structure of 3 nm and 10 nm Au particles supported on titania and silica as typical representatives of reducible and irreducible supports, respectively. We find that the synthesis protocol adopted in our work affects strongly and differently the structure of the Au nanoparticles on the different supports. This leads to clearly distinct dependences of the catalytic activity of the nanoparticles on their size. In the case of the silica support the catalytic activity of Au nanoparticles increases and in the case of the titania support it decreases with decreasing nanoparticle size. The experimental results are considered in terms of current theoretical predictions and found to be in good accord with them.