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First metallic nanoparticles resistant to extreme heat
Date:11/30/2009

too large. Attempts to stabilize the metals have involved encasing them in heat-resistant nanostructures, but the most promising methods were only demonstrated in the 10- to 15-nanometer range, Cao wrote. Veser himself has designed oxide-based nanostructures that stabilized particles as small as 10 nanometers.

For the research in Nature Materials, he and Cao blended platinum and rhodium, which has a high melting point. They tested the alloy via a methane combustion reaction and found that the composite was not only a highly reactive catalyst, but that the particles maintained an average size of 4.3 nanometers, even during extended exposure to 850-degree heat. In fact, small amounts of 4-nanometer particles remained after the temperature topped 950 degrees Celsius, although the majority had ballooned to eight-times that size.

Veser and Cao were surprised to find that the alloy did not simply endure the heat. It instead sacrificed the low-tolerance platinum then reconstituted itself as a rhodium-rich catalyst to finish the reaction. At around 700 degrees Celsius, the platinum-rhodium alloy began to melt. The platinum "bled" from the particle and formed larger particles with other errant platinum, leaving the more durable alloyed particles to weather on. Veser and Cao predicted that this self-stabilization would occur for all metal catalysts alloyed with a second, more durable metal.


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Contact: Morgan Kelly
mekelly@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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