Reaction Current Phenomenon in Bifunctional Catalytic Metal-Semiconductor Nanostructures
thesisposted on 02.03.2016 by Mohammad Amin Hashemian
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
Energy transfer processes accompany every elementary step of catalytic chemical processes on material surface including molecular adsorption and dissociation on atoms, interactions between intermediates, and desorption of reaction products from the catalyst surface. Therefore, detailed understanding of these processes on the molecular level is of great fundamental and practical interest in energy-related applications of nanomaterials. Two main mechanisms of energy transfer from adsorbed particles to a surface are known: (i) adiabatic via excitation of quantized lattice vibrations (phonons) and (ii) non-adiabatic via electronic excitations (electron/hole pairs). Electronic excitations play a key role in nanocatalysis, and it was recently shown that they can be efficiently detected and studied using Schottky-type catalytic nanostructures in the form of measureable electrical currents (chemicurrents) in an external electrical circuit. These nanostructures typically contain an electrically continuous nanocathode layers made of a catalytic metal deposited on a semiconductor substrate. The goal of this research is to study the direct observations of hot electron currents (chemicurrents) in catalytic Schottky structures, using a continuous mesh-like Pt nanofilm grown onto a mesoporous TiO2 substrate. Such devices showed qualitatively different and more diverse signal properties, compared to the earlier devices using smooth substrates, which could only be explained on the basis of bifunctionality. In particular, it was necessary to suggest that different stages of the reaction are occurring on both phases of the catalytic structure. Analysis of the signal behavior also led to discovery of a formerly unknown (very slow) mode of the oxyhydrogen reaction on the Pt/TiO2(por) system occurring at room temperature. This slow mode was producing surprisingly large stationary chemicurrents in the range 10-50 μA/cm2. Results of the chemicurrent measurements for the bifunctional Pt/TiO2(por) transducers were unusual in many regards. Addition of various H2 amounts to the initial 160 Torr O2 atmosphere over the sample led to well repeatable chemicurrents of both transient and steady-state characters, depending on a specific H2 addition procedure. It is suggested that adsorption of hydrogen on Pt/TiO2 structures leads to dissociation of hydrogen molecules on Pt surface followed by “spillover” of hydrogen atoms from Pt toward TiO2 support. In contrast to oxygen, hydrogen manifests donor properties by giving electrons to the TiO2 conductance band and adsorbing as H+ ions. This effect is well illustrated with the I-V curves, showing highly conductive Ohmic characteristics of the samples in H2 atmosphere. Two versions of the spillover process leading eventually to H+ ion adsorption on TiO2 will be considered: H-atom and proton (pre-ionized H-atom) spillover. This research work is a pioneering effort to challenge the direct utility of the nonadiabatic electronic processes in catalytic nanomaterial systems, paving the road toward novel energy conversion devices, solid-state chemical sensors and signal transducers.