Supported metal nanoparticles form the basis of heterogeneous catalysts. Above a certain nanoparticle size, it is generally assumed that adsorbates bond in an identical fashion as on a semiinfinite crystal. This assumption has allowed the database on metal single crystals accumulated over the past 40 years to be used to model heterogeneous catalysts. Using a surface science approach to CO adsorption on supported Pd nanoparticles, we show that this assumption may be flawed. Near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure measurements, isolated to one nanoparticle, show that CO bonds upright on the nanoparticle top facets as expected from single-crystal data. However, the CO lateral registry differs from the single crystal. Our calculations indicate that this is caused by the strain on the nanoparticle, induced by carpet growth across the substrate step edges. This strain also weakens the CO-metal bond, which will reduce the energy barrier for catalytic reactions, including CO oxidation.
Keywords: adsorption; carpet growth; nanoparticle; scanning tunneling microscopy; surface strain.