Visualizing catalyst heterogeneity by a multifrequencial oscillating reaction
Journal article, 2018
It is well documented that different surface structures of catalytically active metals may exhibit different catalytic properties. This is typically examined by comparing the catalytic activities and/or selectivities of various well-defined smooth and stepped/kinked single crystal surfaces. Here we report the direct observation of the heterogeneity of active polycrystalline surfaces under reaction conditions, which is manifested by multifrequential oscillations during hydrogen oxidation over rhodium, imaged in situ by photoemission electron microscopy. Each specific surface structure, i.e. the crystallographically different µm-sized domains of rhodium, exhibits an individual spiral pattern and oscillation frequency, despite the global diffusional coupling of the surface reaction. This reaction behavior is attributed to the ability of stepped surfaces of high-Miller-index domains to facilitate the formation of subsurface oxygen, serving as feedback mechanism of the observed oscillations. The current experimental findings, backed by microkinetic modeling, may open an alternative approach towards addressing the structure-sensitivity of heterogeneous surfaces.