A main obstacle in the rational development of heterogeneous catalysts is the difficulty in identifying active sites. Here we show metal/oxide interfacial sites are highly active for the oxidation of benzyl alcohol and other industrially important primary alcohols on a range of metals and oxides combinations. Scanning tunnelling microscopy together with density functional theory calculations on FeO/Pt(111) reveals that benzyl alcohol enriches preferentially at the oxygen-terminated FeO/Pt(111) interface and undergoes readily O-H and C-H dissociations with the aid of interfacial oxygen, which is also validated in the model study of Cu 2 O/Ag(111). We demonstrate that the interfacial effects are independent of metal or oxide sizes and the way by which the interfaces were constructed. It inspires us to inversely support nano-oxides on micro-metals to make the structure more stable against sintering while the number of active sites is not sacrificed. The catalyst lifetime, by taking the inverse design, is thereby significantly prolonged.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)