Skip to main content

A Theory-Guided X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy Approach for Identifying Active Sites in Atomically Dispersed Transition-Metal ...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Journal of the American Chemical Society
Publication Date
Page Numbers
20144 to 20156

Atomically dispersed supported metal catalysts offer new properties and the benefits of maximized metal accessibility and utilization. The characterization of these materials, however, remains challenging. Using atomically dispersed platinum supported on crystalline MgO (chosen for its well-defined bonding sites) as a prototypical example, we demonstrate how systematic density functional theory calculations for assessing all the potentially stable platinum sites, combined with automated analysis of extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectra, leads to unbiased identification of isolated, surface-enveloped platinum cations as the catalytic species for CO oxidation. The catalyst has been characterized by atomic-resolution imaging and EXAFS and high-energy resolution fluorescence detection X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy. The proposed platinum sites are in agreement with experiment. This theory-guided workflow leads to rigorously determined structural models and provides a more detailed picture of the structure of the catalytically active site than what is currently possible with conventional EXAFS analyses. As this approach is efficient and agnostic to the metal, support, and catalytic reaction, we posit that it will be of broad interest to the materials characterization and catalysis communities.