Exsolution of catalytically active iridium nanoparticles from strontium titanate

Calì, Eleonora and Kerherve, Gwilherm and Naufal, Faris and Kousi, Kalliopi and Neagu, Dragos and Papaioannou, Evangelos I. and Thomas, Melonie P. and Guiton, Beth S. and Metcalfe, Ian S. and Irvine, John T. S. and Payne, David J. (2020) Exsolution of catalytically active iridium nanoparticles from strontium titanate. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 12 (33). pp. 37444-37453. ISSN 1944-8244 (https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.0c08928)

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The search for new functional materials that combine high stability and efficiency with reasonable cost and ease of synthesis is critical for their use in renewable energy applications. Specifically in catalysis, nanoparticles, with their high surface-to-volume ratio, can overcome the cost implications associated with otherwise having to use large amounts of noble metals. However, commercialized materials, that is, catalytic nanoparticles deposited on oxide supports, often suffer from loss of activity because of coarsening and carbon deposition during operation. Exsolution has proven to be an interesting strategy to overcome such issues. Here, the controlled emergence, or exsolution, of faceted iridium nanoparticles from a doped SrTiO3 perovskite is reported and their growth preliminary probed by in situ electron microscopy. Upon reduction of SrIr0.005Ti0.995O3, the generated nanoparticles show embedding into the oxide support, therefore preventing agglomeration and subsequent catalyst degradation. The advantages of this approach are the extremely low noble metal amount employed (∼0.5% weight) and the catalytic activity reported during CO oxidation tests, where the performance of the exsolved SrIr0.005Ti0.995O3 is compared to the activity of a commercial catalyst with 1% loading (1% Ir/Al2O3). The high activity obtained with such low doping shows the possibility of scaling up this new catalyst, reducing the high cost associated with iridium-based materials.