Three-dimensional atomic structure of supported Au nanoparticles at high temperature
Au nanoparticles (NPs) deposited on CeO2 are extensively used as thermal catalysts since the morphology of the NPs is expected to be stable at elevated temperatures. Although it is well known that the activity of Au NPs depends on their size and surface structure, their three-dimensional (3D) structure at the atomic scale has not been completely characterized as a function of temperature. In this paper, we overcome the limitations of conventional electron tomography by combining atom counting applied to aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy images and molecular dynamics relaxation. In this manner, we are able to perform an atomic resolution 3D investigation of supported Au NPs. Our results enable us to characterize the 3D equilibrium structure of single NPs as a function of temperature. Moreover, the dynamic 3D structural evolution of the NPs at high temperatures, including surface layer jumping and crystalline transformations, has been studied.