Intrinsic relation between catalytic activity of CO oxidation on Ru nanoparticles and Ru oxides uncovered with ambient pressure XPS

Nano Lett. 2012 Nov 14;12(11):5761-8. doi: 10.1021/nl303072d. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Recent progress in colloidal synthesis of nanoparticles with well-controlled size, shape, and composition, together with development of in situ surface science characterization tools, such as ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (APXPS), has generated new opportunities to unravel the surface structure of working catalysts. We report an APXPS study of Ru nanoparticles to investigate catalytically active species on Ru nanoparticles under oxidizing, reducing, and CO oxidation reaction conditions. The 2.8 and 6 nm Ru nanoparticle model catalysts were synthesized in the presence of poly(vinyl pyrrolidone) polymer capping agent and deposited onto a flat Si support as two-dimensional arrays using the Langmuir-Blodgett deposition technique. Mild oxidative and reductive characteristics indicate the formation of surface oxide on the Ru nanoparticles, the thickness of which is found to be dependent on nanoparticle size. The larger 6 nm Ru nanoparticles were oxidized to a smaller extent than the smaller Ru 2.8 nm nanoparticles within the temperature range of 50-200 °C under reaction conditions, which appears to be correlated with the higher catalytic activity of the bigger nanoparticles. We found that the smaller Ru nanoparticles form bulk RuO(2) on their surfaces, causing the lower catalytic activity. As the size of the nanoparticle increases, the core-shell type RuO(2) becomes stable. Such in situ observations of Ru nanoparticles are useful in identifying the active state of the catalysts during use and, hence, may allow for rational catalyst designs for practical applications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Monoxide / chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Photoelectron Spectroscopy / methods
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Pressure
  • Pyrrolidinones / chemistry
  • Rubidium / chemistry*
  • Silicon / chemistry
  • Surface Properties
  • Temperature


  • Polymers
  • Pyrrolidinones
  • N-vinyl-2-pyrrolidinone
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Rubidium
  • Oxygen
  • Silicon