Professor’s nanoparticle research chosen as Argonne science highlight

Yu Lei

Dr. Yu Lei

Michael Mercier | UAH

Dr. Yu Lei, a University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) assistant professor of chemical and materials engineering, is the primary author of a paper on nanoparticle catalyst fabrication chosen as a 2014 Science Highlight of the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory.

The paper was selected from approximately 1,500 scientific research papers published so far in 2014 that are fully or partially based on the experiments conducted at the APS. Only 30-40 research papers annually are selected as Science Highlights by APS.

The experiments measured atomic spacing relative to the size of nanoparticles and the effects of gas particles on the spacing. The new data could result in better catalysts, substances that increase the rate of chemical reactions without themselves being changed.

"This is a study about platinum (Pt) catalysts, in particular, supported Pt nanoparticles of a few nanometers in diameter (1 nm = 1 10-9 meter)," Dr. Lei says. "We employed a number of state-of-the-art synchrotron X-ray characterization techniques at the Advanced Photon Source to study the contraction and relaxation of those particles in real time under different gas environments to mimic the catalytic reaction conditions. The resulting understanding of the Pt catalysts will help us to achieve better catalysts design."

Dr. Lei was joined by Argonne coauthors Haiyan Zhao, X-ray Science Division; Sungsik Lee, X-ray Science Division; Junling Lu, Energy Systems Division; Randall E. Winans, X-ray Science Division; Jeffrey T. Miller, Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division; Peter J. Chupas, X-ray Science Division; Karena W. Chapman, X-ray Science Division; and Jeffrey W. Elam, Energy Systems Division; as well as Rosa Diaz Rivas, Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, N.Y.; Bin Liu, Department of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.; Eric Stach, Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, N.Y.; and Jeffrey P. Greeley Department of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

"These challenging experiments were successful because of the contribution from a multidisciplinary team. You can see from the authorship that the work was completed collaboratively by a group of scientists from multiple universities and research institutions," Dr. Lei says. "Everyone brought in their expertise and made the experiments carry out in a precise manner. I was very lucky to work with those talented colleagues."

The Advanced Photon Source is an Office of Science user facility operated for the U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Science by Argonne. Its ultra-bright, high-energy storage ring generated X-ray beams for research in almost all scientific disciplines. The X-rays allow scientists to pursue knowledge about the structure and function of materials.


Dr. Yu Lei

Jim Steele