Alloying and oxidation of PdAu thin films
Journal article, 2024

The relation between catalytic activity and the presence of oxides on the catalyst's surface has proven very complex, especially in the case of methane oxidation over Pd. While the metallic Pd surface and a thin, but at least two atomic layers thick, oxide film has been found catalytically active, a single-layer surface oxide or a too thick oxide film are both low-active. Unfortunately, under reaction conditions, the oxide tends to grow thick and deactivate. The reason for this deactivation is believed to be exposure of the PdO(100) surface, which does not have any suitable active sites for the methane adsorption and activation, in contrast to PdO(101), which is exposed for thin films. In an attempt to limit the thickness of the oxide film, and hence stabilise the active PdO orientation, we have investigated the oxidation of thin PdAu films. The effects of different mixtures (25%, 50%, and 75% Au, respectively) and treatments on the oxidation and orientation of the alloy and oxide films were investigated. As intended, PdAu turned out to be significantly more difficult to oxidise compared to pure Pd. This effect was even stronger than expected. Depending on the sample temperature and the amount of Au present in the alloy, the orientation of the oxide is affected. At lower temperatures and Au concentration, the desired [301] oxide orientation (corresponding to the (101) planes being parallel to the sample surface) is favoured, while higher Au concentration favours the low-active [100] oxide orientation. Thus, PdAu might be a good candidate for methane oxidation if the Au concentration is low, probably below 25%. The larger lattice constant of Au compared to Pd might also affect the oxide orientation, so another choice of alloying material, e.g. PdPt, may also work to stabilise PdO[301]. Independent of the alloy composition, the sample temperature during oxide growth should be optimised in order to achieve an active oxide film.

Thin film

Bimetallic system


Grazing-incidence X-ray diffraction



Oxide formation


Helen Edström

Lund University

Andreas Schaefer

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Applied Chemistry

Leon Jacobse

Max Planck Society

Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY)

Kim von Allmen

Lund University

Benjamin Hagman

Lund University

Per-Anders Carlsson

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Applied Chemistry

Johan Gustafson

Lund University

Thin Solid Films

0040-6090 (ISSN)

Vol. 790 140212

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Materials Engineering

Other Physics Topics


Nanofabrication Laboratory

Areas of Advance

Materials Science



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