Noble-transition metal nanoparticle breathing in a reactive gas atmosphere

Valeri Petkov, Shiyao Shan, Peter Chupas, Jun Yin, Lefu Yang, Jin Luo, Chuan Jian Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In situ high-energy X-ray diffraction coupled to atomic pair distribution function analysis is used to obtain fundamental insight into the effect of the reactive gas environment on the atomic-scale structure of metallic particles less than 10 nm in size. To substantiate our recent discovery we investigate a wide range of noble-transition metal nanoparticles and confirm that they expand and contract radially when treated in oxidizing (O2) and reducing (H2) atmospheres, respectively. The results are confirmed by supplementary XAFS experiments. Using computer simulations guided by the experimental diffraction data we quantify the effect in terms of both relative lattice strain and absolute atomic displacements. In particular, we show that the effect leads to a small percent of extra surface strain corresponding to several tenths of Ångström displacements of the atoms at the outmost layer of the particles. The effect then gradually decays to zero within 4 atomic layers inside the particles. We also show that, reminiscent of a breathing type structural transformation, the effect is reproducible and reversible. We argue that because of its significance and widespread occurrence the effect should be taken into account in nanoparticle research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7379-7387
Number of pages9
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 21 2013


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