Single-atom (SA) catalysis presently receives much attention with its promise to decrease the cost of the active material while increasing the catalyst's performance. However, key details such as the exact location of SA species and their stability are often unclear due to a lack of atomic level information. Here, we show how vibrational spectra measured with surface action spectroscopy (SAS) and density functional theory (DFT) simulations can differentiate between different adatom binding sites and determine the location of Ni and Au single atoms on Fe3O4(001). We reveal that Ni and Au adatoms selectively bind to surface oxygen ions which are octahedrally coordinated to Fe ions. In addition, we find that the Ni adatoms can activate O2 to superoxide in contrast to the bare surface and Ni in subsurface positions. Overall, we unveil the advantages of combining SAS and DFT for improving the understanding of single-atom catalysts.
- Density Functional Calculations
- O Activation
- Single-Atom Catalysis
- Surface Action Spectroscopy