Resolving the puzzle of single-atom silver dispersion on nanosized γ-Al2O3 surface for high catalytic performance

Fei Wang, Jinzhu Ma, Shaohui Xin, Qiang Wang, Jun Xu, Changbin Zhang, Hong He, Xiao Cheng Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Ag/γ-Al2O3 is widely used for catalyzing various reactions, and its performance depends on the valence state, morphology and dispersion of Ag species. However, detailed anchoring mechanism of Ag species on γ-Al2O3 remains largely unknown. Herein, we reveal that the terminal hydroxyls on γ-Al2O3 are responsible for anchoring Ag species. The abundant terminal hydroxyls existed on nanosized γ-Al2O3 can lead to single-atom silver dispersion, thereby resulting in markedly enhanced performance than the Ag cluster on microsized γ-Al2O3. Density-functional-theory calculations confirm that Ag atom is mainly anchored by the terminal hydroxyls on (100) surface, forming a staple-like local structure with each Ag atom bonded with two or three terminal hydroxyls. Our finding resolves the puzzle on why the single-atom silver dispersion can be spontaneously achieved only on nanosized γ-Al2O3, but not on microsized γ-Al2O3. The obtained insight into the Ag species dispersion will benefit future design of more efficient supported Ag catalysts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number529
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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