Worcester Polytechnic Institute Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection

Title page for ETD etd-082814-070241

Document Typedissertation
Author NameGarcia, Juan C
Email Address juan.g.jc at gmail.com
TitleCatalysis and Photocatalysis over TiO2 Surfaces Detailed from First Principles
DepartmentChemical Engineering
  • N. Aaron Deskins, Advisor
  • Ravindra Datta, Committee Member
  • Nikolaos Kazantzis, Committee Member
  • Pratap Rao, Committee Member
  • David DiBiasio, Department Head
  • Keywords
  • metal oxides
  • computational chemistry
  • catalysis
  • Date of Presentation/Defense2014-08-18
    Availability unrestricted


    Catalysts are involved at some stage in the manufacture process of virtually all commercially produced chemical product. Among the materials used as catalysts, metal oxides are one of the most used due to their versatility and wide range of physical properties. Identifying the principles of surface to adsorbate charge transfer is key to a better understanding of metal oxide materials as both catalysts and gas sensors. Using density functional theory (DFT), we modeled the adsorption of small molecules over stoichiometric and reduced metal oxide surfaces of group IV metals and quantify the effect of electron transfer upon adsorption. We found that charge transfer only occurs during the adsorption process of an adsorbate more electronegative than the surface. We also found a correlation between the work function of the metal oxide, and the ionic adsorption of the oxygen molecule.

    Mixed phase rutile/anatase catalysts show increased reactivity compared with the pure phases alone. However, the mechanism causing this effect is not fully understood. Using DFT and the +U correction we calculated the bands offsets between the phases taking into account the effect of the interface. We found rutile to have both higher conduction and valence band offsets than anatase, leading to an accumulation of electrons in the anatase phase accompanied by hole accumulation in the rutile phase. We also probed the electronic structure of our heterostructure and found a gap state caused by electrons localized in undercoordinated Ti atoms which were present within the interfacial region. Interfaces between bulk materials and between exposed surfaces both showed electron trapping at undercoordinated sites. Finally, we studied the effect of the size of gold nanoparticles in the catalytic properties of gold decorated titania surfaces. We found that the adsorption energy of several intermediates reactives in the CO oxidation and water gas shift reaction does not change with the size of the nanoparticles. In conclusion, the factor that affects the reactivity of the system is the density of undercoodinated gold atoms on the interface perimeter.

  • JGarcia-PhD-thesis.pdf

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