David Albinsson
David Albinsson's research explores how individual nanoparticles in catalyst beds change as chemical reactions take place on their surface.
​Photo by: Helén Rosenfeldt

David Albinsson, Physics

​Title of thesis:
 "Operando single particle catalysis:
Combining a nanoreactor and plasmonic nanospectroscopy" 


Heterogeneous catalysis is an important cornerstone of modern society with strong ties to the development of sustainable sources of energy and products. Catalysts are typically realized as supported metal nanoparticles that offer active sites that can accelerate chemical reactions by providing energetically more favorable reaction paths. Despite their broad use, the scrutiny of catalysts under realistic application conditions, such as high pressure and temperature, is a major experimental challenge. This difficulty is further amplified by the complexity present in real catalysts, often consisting of large ensembles of nanoparticles that all are unique. Furthermore, reactors used in catalysis studies often give rise to ill-defined reaction conditions in terms of catalyst distribution, reactant concentration and temperature. To mitigate these challenges, techniques are being developed to enable studies of catalytic nanoparticles under relevant operation conditions, so-called operando techniques. In this context, down-sized chemical reactors can be utilized to achieve precise control of both the catalyst, and the operating conditions. 

In this thesis, I have performed in situ studies of chemical reactions in/on nanoparticles by utilizing plasmonic nanospectroscopy based on the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) phenomenon. The resonance condition for LSPR depends on both nanoparticle properties (size, shape, material) and the surrounding medium, which makes it possible to determine the physical and chemical state of individual nanoparticles optically. The LSPR response was used to study the oxidation of Cu nanoparticles, revealing the complex nature of nanoparticle oxidation kinetics, as well as particle specific oxidation mechanisms. Furthermore, a nanoreactor platform was developed and used in combination with plasmonic nanospectroscopy to perform operando characterization of individual Cu and Pt catalyst nanoparticles during CO oxidation. The obtained results illustrate how the oxidation of Cu results in catalyst deactivation and how reactant gradients formed inside the catalyst bed strongly affects the state of the catalyst, and thus its activity. Moreover, the nanoreactor enabled operando characterization of catalyst beds comprising 1000 well defined nanoparticles that could be individually addressed.​
​Ma​in Supervisor: Christophe Langhammer
Examinator: Henrik Grönbeck
Faculty Opponent: Jeroen van Bokhoven
Category Thesis defence
Location: FB, lecture hall, Fysikgården 4, Fysik Origo
Starts: 23 October, 2020, 10:00
Ends: 23 October, 2020, 12:00

Published: Fri 02 Oct 2020.