A new mechanism for reactivity of multiply twinned gold nanoparticles resulting from their inherently strained structure provides a further explanation of the surprising catalytic activity of small gold nanoparticles. Atomic defect structural studies of surface strains and quantitative analysis of atomic column displacements in the decahedral structure observed by aberration corrected transmission electron microscopy reveal an average expansion of surface nearest neighbor distances of 5.6%, with many strained by more than 10%. Density functional theory calculations of the resulting modified gold d-band states predict significantly enhanced activity for carbon monoxide oxidation. The new insights have important implications for the applications of nanoparticles in chemical process technology, including for heterogeneous catalysis.
- transmission electron microscopy