Origin of extraordinarily high catalytic activity of Co3O4 and its morphological chemistry for CO oxidation at low temperature

Hai-Feng Wang, Richard Kavanagh, Yang-Long Guo, Yun Guo, Guanzhong Lu, P. Hu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding and then designing efficient catalysts for CO oxidation at low temperature is one of the hottest topics in heterogeneous catalysis. Among the existing catalysts. Co3O4 is one of the most interesting systems: Morphology-controlled Co3O4 exhibits exceedingly high activity. In this study, by virtue of extensive density functional theory (OFT) calculations, the favored reaction mechanism in the system is identified. Through careful analyses on the energetics of elementary reactions on Co3O4(1 1 0)-A, Co3O4(1 1 0)-B, Co3O4(1 1 1) and Co3O4(1 0 0), which are the commonly exposed surfaces of Co3O4, we find the following regarding the relation between the activity and structure: (i) Co3+ is the active site rather than Co2+: and (ii) the three-coordinated surface oxygen bonded with three Co3+ may be slightly more reactive than the other two kinds of lattice oxygen, that is, the two-coordinated 0 bonded with one Co2+ and one Co3+ and the three-coordinated 0 bonded with one Co2+ and two Co3+. Following the results from Co3O4, we also extend the investigation to MnO2(1 1 0), Fe3O4(1 1 0), CuO(1 1 0) and CuO(1 1 1), which are the common metal oxide surfaces, aiming to understand the oxides in general. Three properties, such as the CO adsorption strength, the barrier of CO reacting with lattice 0 and the redox capacity, are identified to be the determining factors that can significantly affect the activity of oxides. Among these oxides, Co3O4 is found to be the most active one, stratifying all the three requirements. A new scheme to decompose barriers is introduced to understand the activity difference between lattice O-3c and O-2c on (1 1 0)-B surface. By utilizing the scheme, we demonstrate that the origin of activity variance lies in the geometric structures. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-119
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Catalysis
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • CO oxidation
  • Metal oxides
  • DFT
  • GOLD


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