Controlling the charge state of supported nanoparticles in catalysis: lessons from model systems
Model systems are very important to identify the working principles of real catalysts, and to develop concepts that can be used in the design of new catalytic materials. In this review we report examples of the use of model systems to better understand and control the occurrence of charge transfer at the interface between supported metal nanoparticles and oxide surfaces. In the first part of this article we concentrate on the nature of the support, and on the basic difference in metal/oxide bonding going from a wide-gap non-reducible oxide material to reducible oxide semiconductors. The roles of oxide nanostructuring, bulk and surface defectiveness, and doping with hetero-atoms are also addressed, as they are all aspects that severely affect the metal/oxide interaction. Particular attention is given to the experimental measures of the occurrence of charge transfer at the metal/oxide interface. In this respect, systems based on oxide ultrathin films are particularly important as they allow the use of scanning probe spectroscopies which, often in combination with other measurements and with first principles theoretical simulations, allow full characterization of small supported nanoparticles and their charge state. In a few selected cases, a precise count of the electrons transferred between the oxide and the supported nanoparticle has been possible. Charge transfer can occur through thin, two-dimensional oxide layers also thanks to their structural flexibility. The flow of charge through the oxide film and the formation of charged adsorbates are accompanied in fact by a substantial polaronic relaxation of the film surface which can be rationalized based on electrostatic arguments. In the final part of this review the relationships between model systems and real catalysts are addressed by discussing some examples of how lessons learned from model systems have helped in rationalizing the behavior of real catalysts under working conditions.
- This article is part of the themed collection: New catalytic materials for energy and chemistry in transition