Advanced electron microscopy for heterogeneous catalysts
Metal or metal oxide nanoparticles supported on oxide supports, are one of the most important catalysts in modern industrial processes. Catalyst performance depends on many factors including the size of metal nanoparticles and their spatial distribution, their interaction with a support and their location within the support’s external or internal micro-/meso- porous surfaces.
To obtain full control over the size and location of metal nanoparticles within the support is an ultimate goal in catalyst synthesis. As of recently, we have been developing methods to controllably deposit Pt nanoparticles onto either zeolite or alumina phase of industrially relevant zeolite-alumina extrudates. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and related techniques, such as electron tomography and EDX analysis, proved essential for such studies. With recent developments in microchip technology the possibility to extend TEM imaging from vacuum to liquid phase environment emerged. We are aiming to employ this new liquid-phase TEM technique to study at the nanometer length scale and in real-time synthesis of supported metal nanoparticles, as well as other relevant modifications of the catalysts that take place in a liquid environment.