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In Situ TEM Study of Catalytic Nanoparticle Reactions in Atmospheric Pressure Gas Environment

  • Huolin L. Xin (a1), Kaiyang Niu (a1), Daan Hein Alsem (a2) and Haimei Zheng (a1)

The understanding of solid–gas interactions has been greatly advanced over the past decade on account of the availability of high-resolution transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) equipped with differentially pumped environmental cells. The operational pressures in these differentially pumped environmental TEM (DP-ETEM) instruments are generally limited up to 20 mbar. Yet, many industrial catalytic reactions are operated at pressures equal or higher than 1 bar—50 times higher than that in the DP-ETEM. This poses limitations for in situ study of gas reactions through ETEM and advances are needed to extend in situ TEM study of gas reactions to the higher pressure range. Here, we present a first series of experiments using a gas flow membrane cell TEM holder that allows a pressure up to 4 bar. The built-in membrane heaters enable reactions at a temperature of 95–400°C with flowing reactive gases. We demonstrate that, using a conventional thermionic TEM, 2 Å atomic fringes can be resolved with the presence of 1 bar O2 gases in an environmental cell and we show real-time observation of the Kirkendall effect during oxidation of cobalt nanocatalysts.

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