X-ray standing wave characterization of the strong metal–support interaction in Co/TiOx model catalysts

Atul Tiwari*, Matteo Monai, Ksenia Matveevskii, Sergey N. Yakunin, Laurens D.B. Mandemaker, Martina Tsvetanova, Melissa Jane Goodwin, Marcelo Ackermann, Igor A. Makhotkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The strong metal–support interaction (SMSI) is a phenomenon observed in supported metal catalyst systems in which reducible metal oxide supports can form overlayers over the surface of active metal nanoparticles (NPs) under a hydrogen (H2) environment at elevated temperatures. SMSI has been shown to affect catalyst performance in many reactions by changing the type and number of active sites on the catalyst surface. Laboratory methods for the analysis of SMSI at the nanoparticle-ensemble level are lacking and mostly based on indirect evidence, such as gas chemisorption. Here, we demonstrate the possibility to detect and characterize SMSIs in Co/TiOx model catalysts using the laboratory X-ray standing wave (XSW) technique for a large ensemble of NPs at the bulk scale. We designed a thermally stable MoNx/SiNx periodic multilayer to retain XSW generation after reduction with H2 gas at 600°C. The model catalyst system was synthesized here by deposition of a thin TiOx layer on top of the periodic multilayer, followed by Co NP deposition via spare ablation. A partial encapsulation of Co NPs by TiOx was identified by analyzing the change in Ti atomic distribution. This novel methodological approach can be extended to observe surface restructuring of model catalysts in situ at high temperature (up to 1000°C) and pressure (≤3 mbar), and can also be relevant for fundamental studies in the thermal stability of membranes, as well as metallurgy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481 - 491
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied crystallography
Issue numberPart 2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Strong Metal Support Interaction
  • hybrid metrology
  • supported catalysts
  • X-ray standing wave


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