An Investigation of the Electronic and Catalytic Properties of Ceria Nanocubes
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The focus of this thesis was on the synthesis, characterization and application of ceria nanocubes. This thesis is divided into two main sections; the first section investigates the electronic properties of ceria nanocubes, and the second explores their catalytic applications towards alcohol oxidation reactions. The first project of this thesis consisted of the X-ray characterization of hydrothermally synthesized ceria nanocubes of various sizes. For the first time, the electronic properties of such nanocubes were systematically studied using high resolution XPS and XANES. It was found that the concentration of Ce3+ present within the nanocubes was independent of the particle size, as well as the Ce precursor used during synthesis. Throughout the analysis of the Ce 3d and 4d XPS spectra, it was observed that the surface of the ceria nanocube samples was undergoing photoreduction/damage over time. This damage was attributed to the samples’ exposure to high intensity X-ray radiation. This was confirmed through examination of the Ce M4,5- and N4,5-edge XANES spectra. From these results, it was clear that the concentration of Ce3+ on the surface of the ceria nanocubes was independent of particle size. This fact may become important when investigating their potential catalytic activity. The second project of this thesis concentrated on the analysis of the catalytic activity of a variety of CeO2, Au and Au/CeO2 catalysts towards the oxidation of benzyl alcohol. The low temperature oxidation reactions were studied using 1H NMR spectroscopy. It was observed that Au NPs, Au/bulk CeO2, and Au/CeO2 nanocubes in water and K2CO3 were active catalysts for this oxidation reaction at 60°C in both air and O2 (g) atmospheres. Surprisingly, however, the Au/bulk CeO2 and Au/CeO2 nanocube catalysts showed very similar activities. It was also found that ceria nanocubes alone, and Au25(SR)18/bulk CeO2 showed no activity for this reaction under similar conditions. It was determined that below a substrate to catalyst ratio of ~ 1500:1, the Au/CeO2 catalysts, which showed the highest activities, were mass-transport limited with respect to the O2 in the system. The turnover frequencies of the supported catalysts were approximately double those of the unsupported NPs. Furthermore, these reactions have indicated that activating Au25(SR)18/CeO2 for catalysis is a non-trivial task, and more work needs to be done to understand the activation of such clusters.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorGrosvenor, Andrew; Scott, Robert
CommitteePaige, Matthew; Chang, Gap Soo
Copyright DateOctober 2013
Benzyl alcohol oxidation