Palladium catalysts synthesized by atomic layer deposition for methanol decomposition

Hao Feng, Jeffrey W. Elam, Joseph A. Libera, Worajit Setthapun, Peter Stair

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121 Scopus citations


Atomic layer deposition (ALD) palladium films were deposited at 200 °C on various ALD metal oxide surfaces using sequential exposures to Pd(II) hexafluoroacetylacetonate (Pd(hfac)2) and formalin. In situ quartz crystal microbalance measurements as well as ex situ measurements performed on planar substrates revealed that the Pd growth begins with a relatively slow nucleation process and accelerates once an adequate amount of Pd has deposited on the surface. Furthermore, the Pd nucleation is faster on ALD ZnO surfaces compared to ALD Al2O3 surfaces. ALD was utilized to synthesize highly dispersed, uniform Pd nanoparticles (1 to 2 nm in diameter) on ALD ZnO and Al2O3 coated mesoporous silica gel, and the catalytic performances of these samples were compared in the methanol decomposition reaction. The ALD Pd-Al2O3 showed high activity and hydrogen selectivity at relatively low temperatures while the ALD Pd-ZnO showed very low activity as well as quick deactivation. In situ extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) measurement revealed that the Pd supported on ZnO "dissolves" into the substrate during the methanol decomposition reaction which accounts for the gradual disappearance of its catalytic activity. By applying one cycle of ALD Al2O3 on top of the Pd-ZnO catalyst, the activity was enhanced and the catalyst deactivation was mitigated. This Al2O3 overcoating method stabilizes the Pd-ZnO and effectively prevents the dissolution of Pd into the ZnO substrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3133-3142
Number of pages10
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 25 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry


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