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 Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>