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Studying gold’s catalytic behavior

Chris Kiely and his research colleagues, including Qian He, lead author and one of Kiely’s former Ph.D. students, have published Population and hierarchy of active species in gold iron oxide catalysts for carbon monoxide oxidation in Nature Communications.

After leaving Lehigh, Qian He spent time as a postdoctoral research associate in the Materials Science & Technology division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. He is now University Research Fellow at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute in the UK.

Back in 2008, Chris Kiely and colleagues studied the structure of gold at the nanoscale. Their examination, using the JEOL JEM-2200FS STEM, part of Lehigh’s Electron Microscopy and Nanofabrication Facility, led to the identification of three distinct gold species: faceted nanoparticles (larger than one nanometer in size), sub-clusters (less than 20 atoms), and individual gold atoms dispersed on the oxide support structure.

Prior to this discovery, only faceted nanoparticles were known to exist. In turn, this created debate as to which gold species was responsible for gold’s catalytic behavior — for instance, gold dispersed on iron oxide accelerates the conversion of carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide at room temperature.

Subsequent research by the team demonstrated conclusively that all three gold species contribute to such catalysis.

Source: Lehigh University
Image: Nature Communications

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