Strain Engineering of a Defect-Free, Single-Layer MoS 2 Substrate for Highly Efficient Single-Atom Catalysis of CO Oxidation

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2019 Sep 11;11(36):32887-32894. doi: 10.1021/acsami.9b06435. Epub 2019 Aug 30.


Single-atom catalysts (SACs) are of great scientific and technical importance due to their low cost, high site density, and high specificity to enhance chemical reactions. Nevertheless, a major issue that severely limits the practical exploration of SACs is their instability, i.e., the preference of sintering and clustering over a defect-free substrate during operation. Here, we employ first-principles calculations to investigate how substrate engineering can stabilize SACs by strain-tuning the electronic interactions between the metal and the substrate using two Pd adatoms on a defect-free, single-layer MoS2 as a typical example. It is identified that the Pd2 dimer is prone to dissociate and form highly efficient SACs for CO oxidation due to the enhanced charge transfer and orbital hybridization with the MoS2 substrate under a suitable tensile strain. The straining induces a semiconductive-to-metallic phase transition of the substrate. Moreover, low-cost elements, such as Ag, Ni, Cu, and Cr, can also be stabilized into high-performance SACs for CO oxidation with tunable reaction barriers by straining. The present findings offer a new avenue to inhibit the transition metal atoms from clustering into nanoclusters/particles and provide a clear guidance for the development of highly cost-efficient and stable SACs on defect-free substrates.

Keywords: CO oxidation; defect-free 2H-MoS; electronic metal−substrate interactions; single-atom catalysts; strain engineering.