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Designing CuOx Nanoparticle-Decorated CeO2 Nanocubes for Catalytic Soot Oxidation: Role of the Nanointerface in the Catalytic Performance of Heterostructured Nanomaterials

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journal contribution
posted on 17.02.2016, 00:00 by Putla Sudarsanam, Brendan Hillary, Baithy Mallesham, Bolla Govinda Rao, Mohamad Hassan Amin, Ayman Nafady, Ali M. Alsalme, B. Mahipal Reddy, Suresh K. Bhargava
This work investigates the structure–activity properties of CuOx-decorated CeO2 nanocubes with a meticulous scrutiny on the role of the CuOx/CeO2 nanointerface in the catalytic oxidation of diesel soot, a critical environmental problem all over the world. For this, a systematic characterization of the materials has been undertaken using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), transmission electron microscopy–energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (TEM–EDS), high-angle annular dark-field–scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF–STEM), scanning transmission electron microscopy–electron energy loss spectroscopy (STEM–EELS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman, N2 adsorption–desorption, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) techniques. The TEM images show the formation of nanosized CeO2 cubes (∼25 nm) and CuOx nanoparticles (∼8.5 nm). The TEM–EDS elemental mapping images reveal the uniform decoration of CuOx nanoparticles on CeO2 nanocubes. The XPS and Raman studies show that the decoration of CuOx on CeO2 nanocubes leads to improved structural defects, such as higher concentrations of Ce3+ ions and abundant oxygen vacancies. It was found that CuOx-decorated CeO2 nanocubes efficiently catalyze soot oxidation at a much lower temperature (T50 = 646 K, temperature at which 50% soot conversion is achieved) compared to that of pristine CeO2 nanocubes (T50 = 725 K) under tight contact conditions. Similarly, a huge 91 K difference in the T50 values of CuOx/CeO2 (T50 = 744 K) and pristine CeO2 (T50 = 835 K) was found in the loose-contact soot oxidation studies. The superior catalytic performance of CuOx-decorated CeO2 nanocubes is mainly attributed to the improved redox efficiency of CeO2 at the nanointerface sites of CuOx–CeO2, as evidenced by Ce M5,4 EELS analysis, supported by XRD, Raman, and XPS studies, a clear proof for the role of nanointerfaces in the performance of heterostructured nanocatalysts.