Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanoparticles on nanosteps

01.03.2016

A new study reduces wastage and increases the efficiency of catalysts

Platinum is one of the costly metals used as catalysts in new technologies employed for industrial chemical processes, renewable energy sources, pollution control and many other purposes. In particular, it is used for fuel cells, devices that turn chemical energy directly into electrical energy, without combustion.


These are platinum nanoparticles on nanosteps.

Credit: SISSA/CNR-IOM

Research has shown that the greatest efficiency is achieved when the catalyst is available in the form of nanoparticles (smaller than 10-9 m). Simply put, the greater the dispersion of the material and the smaller the size of the particles, the more is it available for catalysis.

Unfortunately, the laws of thermodynamics cause the particles to "stick" to one another and form larger clusters, which is why the material becomes less effective over time. So what can be done to maintain maximal dispersion of the "nanopowder"?

A group of SISSA/CNR IOM scientists (with the collaboration of the Univerzita Karlova in Prague) has studied a way to produce tiny platinum grains consisting of one atom only and to keep them dispersed in a stable manner, by exploiting the properties of the substrate on which they rest.

"Theoretical work demonstrated that irregularities in the surface known as steps and observed in experiments conducted at the Trieste Synchrotron tend to attract and separate the nanoparticles, causing them to remain literally attached in the form of single atoms", explains Stefano Fabris, CNR-IOM/SISSA research fellow.

"The particles adhering to the steps were no longer visible even using an atomic resolution microscope" explains Nguyen-Dung Tran, a SISSA PhD student. "However, their presence was detected by spectroscopy, so they were indeed there, but they were no longer visible or free to move around".

"Our computer simulations solved this dilemma, showing that the particles on the steps are reduced to single atoms" adds Matteo Farnesi Camellone (CNR-IOM), another author of the study.

"If the surface is engineered to contain a large number of these defects, then the force that binds the particles to the substrate effectively offsets the aggregation force", explains Fabris. The theoretical work, led by Fabris, allowed the researchers to develop a "system model" on the computer able predict the behaviour of the material.

The model's predictions were confirmed by the experimental measurements. Materials like this can be used for fuel cell electrodes, with far lower costs than the current ones.

"Reducing the amount of platinum used in fuel cell electrodes is a priority, not only to contain costs but also to ensure environmental sustainability, as also indicated by the recent European directives" concludes Fabris. The European project ChipCAT, which funded this research, aims precisely to achieve this goal.

Media Contact

Federica Sgorbissa
pressoffice@sissa.it
39-040-378-7644

 @sissaschool

http://www.sissa.it 

Federica Sgorbissa | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New record on squeezing light to one atom: Atomic Lego guides light below one nanometer
20.04.2018 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences

nachricht New research could literally squeeze more power out of solar cells
20.04.2018 | University of Warwick

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

New research could literally squeeze more power out of solar cells

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

New record on squeezing light to one atom: Atomic Lego guides light below one nanometer

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>