Visualizing electronic interactions between iron and carbon by X-ray chemical imaging and spectroscopy†
The electronic interaction of a catalyst and its support is of vital importance to its catalytic performance. However, it is still a great challenge to directly probe the interaction due to the lack of well-defined models and efficient technical means. In this study, we report that pod-like carbon nanotubes with encapsulated iron particles (Pod-Fe) and scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) can be used as an ideal model and technique to study the electronic interaction between carbon shells and iron particles. The chemical imaging and spectroscopy of Pod-Fe by STXM show that the local electronic structures at C K-edge near edge (π*) of carbon shells can be significantly modified by the encapsulated iron particles, which promotes the adsorption of oxygen-containing species, and thereby further modifies the electronic structure (π* and σ*) of the carbon shells. Moreover, computed X-ray absorption near edge structure spectra (XANES) confirmed the electronic modifications of carbon shells by the encapsulated iron particles. The present study provides a direct evidence of electronic interactions with simultaneously collected images and spectra, which can promote the understanding towards the nature of active sites and supports.