Issue Date: September 15, 2008
STM Reveals Bimetallic Nanoclusters
High-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy (HRSTM) has afforded researchers an atomic-scale view of a triangle-shaped bimetallic catalyst deposited on a silica substrate for the first time (J. Phys. Chem. C, DOI: 10.1021/jp8068464). The ability to spy the metal clusters with such precision should aid researchers in understanding how catalyst precursors are converted into highly dispersed catalysts and in determining the structure of the active catalysts on oxide supports. Fan Yang and D. Wayne Goodman of Texas A&M University, along with Eszter Trufan and Richard D. Adams of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, first prepared Ru3(CO)9(SnPh2)3 (Ph is phenyl), a catalyst with a planar Ru3Sn3 cluster core. The team then deposited the catalyst on an ultrathin film of silica on a molybdenum surface and heated the material under vacuum to drive off the CO and phenyl ligands. Using HRSTM, the researchers were able to see tiny triangle-shaped Ru3Sn3 clusters oriented along silicon chains all over the substrate surface. At the highest resolution they could discern the six individual metal atoms, confirming that the clusters had retained their integrity during processing.
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