Break-up of stepped platinum catalyst surfaces by high CO coverage

Science. 2010 Feb 12;327(5967):850-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1182122.


Stepped single-crystal surfaces are viewed as models of real catalysts, which consist of small metal particles exposing a large number of low-coordination sites. We found that stepped platinum (Pt) surfaces can undergo extensive and reversible restructuring when exposed to carbon monoxide (CO) at pressures above 0.1 torr. Scanning tunneling microscopy and photoelectron spectroscopy studies under gaseous environments near ambient pressure at room temperature revealed that as the CO surface coverage approaches 100%, the originally flat terraces of (557) and (332) oriented Pt crystals break up into nanometer-sized clusters and revert to the initial morphology after pumping out the CO gas. Density functional theory calculations provide a rationale for the observations whereby the creation of increased concentrations of low-coordination Pt edge sites in the formed nanoclusters relieves the strong CO-CO repulsion in the highly compressed adsorbate film. This restructuring phenomenon has important implications for heterogeneous catalytic reactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.