Applied Catalysis A: General, Vol.579, 58-64, 2019
Impacts of calcination on surface-clean supported nanoparticle catalysts
Traditional methods of preparing size-controlled supported nanoparticle catalysts typically require the use of stabilizing ligands that passivate the nanoparticle surface to prevent overgrowth and aggregation. The presence of these ligands on catalytic surfaces can be detrimental to activity and are typically removed via a high-temperature annealing step, which ultimately results in changes to nanoparticle morphology and thus, reduced activity. We previously demonstrated that silylamine switchable surfactants can be used to synthesize and deposit highly active nanoparticles on to a support surface while preserving monodispersity. Here, we demonstrate using XPS that supported nanoparticles prepared in this manner are surface-clean after deposition, eliminating the need for traditional activation steps. Further, it is shown that even low-temperature calcinations have detrimental effects on the catalyst properties including changes in nanoparticle morphology that result in a significant decrease in activity, a change in surface hydrophilicity, a change in activation energy, and results in the formation of an induction time when utilized in the hydrogenation of 4-nitrophenol. While calcination remains a widely used method of catalyst activation, the detrimental effects of high temperatures on catalyst properties are often overlooked.