Journal of Materials Chemistry A 1 6051 (2013)
The effect of changes in morphology and surface hydroxyl species upon thermal treatment of zirconia on the oxidation activity of Au/ZrO2 catalyst was studied. We observed using transmission Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy progressive changes in the presence of monodentate (type I), bidentate (type II) and hydrogen bridged species (type III) for each of the thermally treated (85 to 500 °C) supports consisting of bare zirconia and Au/ZrO2 catalysts. Furthermore, structural changes in zirconia were accompanied by an increase in crystal size (7 to 58 nm) and contraction of the supports porosity (SSA 532 to 7 m2 g−1) with increasing thermal treatment. Deposition of gold nanoparticles under similar preparation conditions on different thermally treated zirconia resulted in changes in the mean gold cluster size, ranging from 3.7 to 5.6 nm. Changes in the surface hydroxyl species, support structure and size of the gold centers are important parameters responsible for the observed decrease (>90%) in CO conversion activity for the Au/ZrO2 catalysts. Density functional theory calculations provide evidence of increased CO binding to Au nanoclusters in the presence of surface hydroxyls on zirconia, which increases charge transfer at the perimeter of the gold nanocluster on zirconia support. This further helps in reducing a model CO-oxidation reaction barrier in the presence of surface hydroxyls. This work demonstrates the need to understand the structure–activity relationship of both the support and active particles for the design of catalytic materials.
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