Oxidative dispersion has been widely used in regeneration of sintered metal catalysts and fabrication of single atom catalysts, which is attributed to an oxidation-induced dispersion mechanism. However, the interplay of gas-metal-support interaction in the dispersion processes, especially the gas-metal interaction has not been well illustrated. Here, we show dynamic dispersion of silver nanostructures on silicon nitride surface under reducing/oxidizing conditions and during carbon monoxide oxidation reaction. Utilizing environmental scanning (transmission) electron microscopy and near-ambient pressure photoelectron spectroscopy/photoemission electron microscopy, we unravel a new adsorption-induced dispersion mechanism in such a typical oxidative dispersion process. The strong gas-metal interaction achieved by chemisorption of oxygen on nearly-metallic silver nanoclusters is the internal driving force for dispersion. In situ observations show that the dispersed nearly-metallic silver nanoclusters are oxidized upon cooling in oxygen atmosphere, which could mislead to the understanding of oxidation-induced dispersion. We further understand the oxidative dispersion mechanism from the view of dynamic equilibrium taking temperature and gas pressure into account, which should be applied to many other metals such as gold, copper, palladium, etc. and other reaction conditions.
Rongtan Li, Xiaoyan Xu, Beien Zhu, Xiao-Yan Li, Yanxiao Ning, Rentao Mu, Pengfei Du, Mengwei Li, Huike Wang, Jiajie Liang, Yongsheng Chen, Yi Gao, Bing Yang, Qiang Fu & Xinhe Bao
NATURE COMMUNICATIONS | (2021) 12:1406