Chemical ordering in Pt–Au, Pt–Ag and Pt–Cu nanoparticles from density functional calculations using a topological approach†
Bimetallic alloys are actively investigated as promising new materials for catalytic and other energy-related applications. However, the stable arrangements of the two metals in prevailing nanostructured systems, which define their structure and surface reactivity, are seldom addressed. The equilibrium chemical orderings of bimetallic nanoparticles are usually different from those in the corresponding bulk phases and hard to control experimentally, which hampers assessment of the relations between composition, structure, and reactivity. Herewith, we study mixtures of platinum—an essential metal in catalysis—alloyed with coinage metals gold, silver, and copper. These systems are interesting, for instance, for reducing the costly Pt content and designing improved multifunctional catalysts, but the chemical orderings in such mixtures at the nanoscale are still debated. We therefore explore chemical orderings and properties of Pt-containing nanoalloys by means of a topological method based on density functional calculations. We determine the lowest-energy chemical orderings in 1.4 to 4.4 nm large Pt–Au, Pt–Ag and Pt–Cu particles with different contents of metals. Chemical ordering, bonding, and charge distribution in the nanoparticles are analyzed, identifying how peculiar structural motifs relevant for catalysis and sensing applications, such as monometallic skins and surface single-atom sites, emerge. We compare these results with previous data for the corresponding Pd-based particles, identifying trends in chemical ordering, deepening understanding of the behaviour of catalytically relevant bimetallic compositions, and establishing appropriate models for studying the bimetallic nanoalloys.