In Situ Plasmonic Nanospectroscopy of the CO Oxidation Reaction over Single Pt Nanoparticles.
ABSTRACT: The ongoing quest to develop single-particle methods for the in situ study of heterogeneous catalysts is driven by the fact that heterogeneity in terms of size, shape, grain structure, and composition is a general feature among nanoparticles in an ensemble. This heterogeneity hampers the generation of a deeper understanding for how these parameters affect catalytic properties. Here we present a solution that in a single benchtop experimental setup combines single-particle plasmonic nanospectroscopy with mass spectrometry for gas phase catalysis under reaction conditions at high temperature. We measure changes in the surface state of polycrystalline platinum model catalyst particles in the 70 nm size range and the corresponding bistable kinetics during the carbon monoxide oxidation reaction via the peak shift of the dark-field scattering spectrum of a closely adjacent plasmonic nanoantenna sensor and compare these changes with the total reaction rate measured by the mass spectrometer from an ensemble of nominally identical particles. We find that the reaction kinetics of simultaneously measured individual Pt model catalysts are dictated by the grain structure and that the superposition of the individual nanoparticle response can account for the significant broadening observed in the corresponding nanoparticle ensemble data. In a wider perspective our work enables in situ plasmonic nanospectroscopy in controlled gas environments at high temperature to investigate the role of the surface state on transition metal catalysts during reaction and of processes such as alloying or surface segregation in situ at the single-nanoparticle level for model catalysts in the few tens to hundreds of nanometer size range.
Project description:Grain boundaries separate crystallites in solids and influence material properties, as widely documented for bulk materials. In nanomaterials, however, investigations of grain boundaries are very challenging and just beginning. Here, we report the systematic mapping of the role of grain boundaries in the hydrogenation phase transformation in individual Pd nanoparticles. Employing multichannel single-particle plasmonic nanospectroscopy, we observe large variation in particle-specific hydride-formation pressure, which is absent in hydride decomposition. Transmission Kikuchi diffraction suggests direct correlation between length and type of grain boundaries and hydride-formation pressure. This correlation is consistent with tensile lattice strain induced by hydrogen localized near grain boundaries as the dominant factor controlling the phase transition during hydrogen absorption. In contrast, such correlation is absent for hydride decomposition, suggesting a different phase-transition pathway. In a wider context, our experimental setup represents a powerful platform to unravel microstructure-function correlations at the individual-nanoparticle level.
Project description:Plasmonic nanoparticle catalysts offer improved light absorption and carrier transport compared to traditional photocatalysts. However, it remains unclear how plasmonic excitation affects multi-step reaction kinetics and promotes site-selectivity. Here, we visualize a plasmon-induced reaction at the sub-nanoparticle level in-situ and in real-time. Using an environmental transmission electron microscope combined with light excitation, we study the photocatalytic dehydrogenation of individual palladium nanocubes coupled to gold nanoparticles with sub-2 nanometer spatial resolution. We find that plasmons increase the rate of distinct reaction steps with unique time constants; enable reaction nucleation at specific sites closest to the electromagnetic hot spots; and appear to open a new reaction pathway that is not observed without illumination. These effects are explained by plasmon-mediated population of excited-state hybridized palladium-hydrogen orbitals. Our results help elucidate the role of plasmons in light-driven photochemical transformations, en-route to design of site-selective and product-specific photocatalysts.
Project description:Photosensitive proteins embedded in the cell membrane (about 5 nm thickness) act as photoactivated proton pumps, ion gates, enzymes, or more generally, as initiators of stimuli for the cell activity. They are composed of a protein backbone and a covalently bound cofactor (e.g. the retinal chromophore in bacteriorhodopsin (BR), channelrhodopsin, and other opsins). The light-induced conformational changes of both the cofactor and the protein are at the basis of the physiological functions of photosensitive proteins. Despite the dramatic development of microscopy techniques, investigating conformational changes of proteins at the membrane monolayer level is still a big challenge. Techniques based on atomic force microscopy (AFM) can detect electric currents through protein monolayers and even molecular binding forces in single-protein molecules but not the conformational changes. For the latter, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) using difference-spectroscopy mode is typically employed, but it is performed on macroscopic liquid suspensions or thick films containing large amounts of purified photosensitive proteins. In this work, we develop AFM-assisted, tip-enhanced infrared difference-nanospectroscopy to investigate light-induced conformational changes of the bacteriorhodopsin mutant D96N in single submicrometric native purple membrane patches. We obtain a significant improvement compared with the signal-to-noise ratio of standard IR nanospectroscopy techniques by exploiting the field enhancement in the plasmonic nanogap that forms between a gold-coated AFM probe tip and an ultraflat gold surface, as further supported by electromagnetic and thermal simulations. IR difference-spectra in the 1450-1800 cm-1 range are recorded from individual patches as thin as 10 nm, with a diameter of less than 500 nm, well beyond the diffraction limit for FTIR microspectroscopy. We find clear spectroscopic evidence of a branching of the photocycle for BR molecules in direct contact with the gold surfaces, with equal amounts of proteins either following the standard proton-pump photocycle or being trapped in an intermediate state not directly contributing to light-induced proton transport. Our results are particularly relevant for BR-based optoelectronic and energy-harvesting devices, where BR molecular monolayers are put in contact with metal surfaces, and, more generally, for AFM-based IR spectroscopy studies of conformational changes of proteins embedded in intrinsically heterogeneous native cell membranes.
Project description:Monolayer molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) has received intense interest as a strong candidate for next-generation electronics. However, the observed electrical properties of monolayer MoS2 exhibit several anomalies: samples universally exhibit unexpectedly low mobilities, n-type characteristics, and large contact resistances regardless of contact metal work function. These anomalies have been attributed to the presence of defects, but the mechanism behind this link has been elusive. Here we report the ionization dynamics of sulfur monovacancy defects in monolayer MoS2 probed via noise nanospectroscopy, realized by combining noise-current analysis with atomic force microscopy. Due to the nanoscale dimension of the in situ channel defined by the tip size, we probe a few monovacancy defects at a time. Monovacancy defects exhibit switching between three distinct ionization configurations, corresponding to charge states 0, -1, and -2. The most probable charge configurations are 0 and -1, providing a plausible mechanism to explain the observed anomalies of MoS2 monolayers.
Project description:Most syntheses of advanced materials require accurate control of the operating temperature. Plasmon resonances in metal nanoparticles generate nanoscale temperature gradients at their surface that can be exploited to control the growth of functional nanomaterials, including bimetallic and core@shell particles. However, in typical ensemble plasmonic experiments these local gradients vanish due to collective heating effects. Here, we demonstrate how localized plasmonic photothermal effects can generate spatially confined nanoreactors by activating, controlling, and spectroscopically following the growth of individual metal@semiconductor core@shell nanoparticles. By tailoring the illumination geometry and the surrounding chemical environment, we demonstrate the conformal growth of semiconducting shells of CeO2, ZnO, and ZnS, around plasmonic nanoparticles of different morphologies. The shell growth rate scales with the nanoparticle temperature and the process is followed in situ via the inelastic light scattering of the growing nanoparticle. Plasmonic control of chemical reactions can lead to the synthesis of functional nanomaterials otherwise inaccessible with classical colloidal methods, with potential applications in nanolithography, catalysis, energy conversion, and photonic devices.
Project description:Promotion of C-C bonds is one of the key fundamental questions in the field of CO2 electroreduction. Much progress has occurred in developing bulk-derived Cu-based electrodes for CO2-to-multicarbons (CO2-to-C2+), especially in the widely studied class of high-surface-area "oxide-derived" copper. However, fundamental understanding into the structural characteristics responsible for efficient C-C formation is restricted by the intrinsic activity of these catalysts often being comparable to polycrystalline copper foil. By closely probing a Cu nanoparticle (NP) ensemble catalyst active for CO2-to-C2+, we show that bias-induced rapid fusion or "electrochemical scrambling" of Cu NPs creates disordered structures intrinsically active for low overpotential C2+ formation, exhibiting around sevenfold enhancement in C2+ turnover over crystalline Cu. Integrating ex situ, passivated ex situ, and in situ analyses reveals that the scrambled state exhibits several structural signatures: a distinct transition to single-crystal Cu2O cubes upon air exposure, low crystallinity upon passivation, and high mobility under bias. These findings suggest that disordered copper structures facilitate C-C bond formation from CO2 and that electrochemical nanocrystal scrambling is an avenue toward creating such catalysts.
Project description:The chemical and structural properties of biomolecules determine their interactions, and thus their functions, in a wide variety of biochemical processes. Innovative imaging methods have been developed to characterise biomolecular structures down to the angstrom level. However, acquiring vibrational absorption spectra at the single molecule level, a benchmark for bulk sample characterization, has remained elusive. Here, we introduce off-resonance, low power and short pulse infrared nanospectroscopy (ORS-nanoIR) to allow the acquisition of infrared absorption spectra and chemical maps at the single molecule level, at high throughput on a second timescale and with a high signal-to-noise ratio (~10-20). This high sensitivity enables the accurate determination of the secondary structure of single protein molecules with over a million-fold lower mass than conventional bulk vibrational spectroscopy. These results pave the way to probe directly the chemical and structural properties of individual biomolecules, as well as their interactions, in a broad range of chemical and biological systems.
Project description:Infrared nanospectroscopy enables novel possibilities for chemical and structural analysis of nanocomposites, biomaterials or optoelectronic devices. Here we introduce hyperspectral infrared nanoimaging based on Fourier transform infrared nanospectroscopy with a tunable bandwidth-limited laser continuum. We describe the technical implementations and present hyperspectral infrared near-field images of about 5,000 pixel, each one covering the spectral range from 1,000 to 1,900?cm-1. To verify the technique and to demonstrate its application potential, we imaged a three-component polymer blend and a melanin granule in a human hair cross-section, and demonstrate that multivariate data analysis can be applied for extracting spatially resolved chemical information. Particularly, we demonstrate that distribution and chemical interaction between the polymer components can be mapped with a spatial resolution of about 30?nm. We foresee wide application potential of hyperspectral infrared nanoimaging for valuable chemical materials characterization and quality control in various fields ranging from materials sciences to biomedicine.
Project description:Supported metal catalysts are extensively used in industrial and environmental applications. To improve their performance, it is crucial to identify the most active sites. This identification is, however, made challenging by the presence of a large number of potential surface structures that complicate such an assignment. Often, the active site is formed by an ensemble of atoms, thus introducing further complications in its identification. Being able to produce uniform structures and identify the ones that are responsible for the catalyst performance is a crucial goal. In this work, we utilize a combination of uniform Pd/Pt nanocrystal catalysts and theory to reveal the catalytic active-site ensemble in highly active propene combustion materials. Using colloidal chemistry to exquisitely control nanoparticle size, we find that intrinsic rates for propene combustion in the presence of water increase monotonically with particle size on Pt-rich catalysts, suggesting that the reaction is structure dependent. We also reveal that water has a near-zero or mildly positive reaction rate order over Pd/Pt catalysts. Theory insights allow us to determine that the interaction of water with extended terraces present in large particles leads to the formation of step sites on metallic surfaces. These specific step-edge sites are responsible for the efficient combustion of propene at low temperature. This work reveals an elusive geometric ensemble, thus clearly identifying the active site in alkene combustion catalysts. These insights demonstrate how the combination of uniform catalysts and theory can provide a much deeper understanding of active-site geometry for many applications.
Project description:Understanding catalysts strain dynamic behaviours is crucial for the development of cost-effective, efficient, stable and long-lasting catalysts. Here, we reveal in situ three-dimensional strain evolution of single gold nanocrystals during a catalytic CO oxidation reaction under operando conditions with coherent X-ray diffractive imaging. We report direct observation of anisotropic strain dynamics at the nanoscale, where identically crystallographically-oriented facets are qualitatively differently affected by strain leading to preferential active sites formation. Interestingly, the single nanoparticle elastic energy landscape, which we map with attojoule precision, depends on heating versus cooling cycles. The hysteresis observed at the single particle level is following the normal/inverse hysteresis loops of the catalytic performances. This approach opens a powerful avenue for studying, at the single particle level, catalytic nanomaterials and deactivation processes under operando conditions that will enable profound insights into nanoscale catalytic mechanisms.