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Pt8 cluster on alumina under a pressure of hydrogen: Support-dependent reconstruction from first-principles global optimization.

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Alumina supported Pt nanoclusters under a hydrogen environment play a crucial role in many heterogeneous catalysis applications. We conducted grand canonical genetic algorithm simulations for supported Pt8 clusters in a hydrogen gas environment to study the intracluster, cluster-support, and cluster-adsorbate interactions. Two alumina surfaces, α-Al2O3(0001) and γ-Al2O3(100), and two conditions, T = 600 °C, pH2 = 0.1 bar and T = 25 °C, pH2 = 1.0 bar, were considered corresponding to low and high hydrogen chemical potential μH, respectively. The low free energy ensemble of Pt8 is decorated by a medium (2-12 H), respectively, high (20-30 H), number of hydrogen atoms under equilibrium at low μH, respectively, high μH, and undergoes different morphological transformations on the two surfaces. On α-Al2O3(0001), Pt8 is mostly 3D but very fluxional in structure at low μH and converts to open one-layer 2D structures with minimal fluxionality at high μH, whereas on γ-Al2O3(100), the exact opposite occurs: Pt8 clusters present one-layer 2D shapes at low μH and switch to compact 3D shapes under high μH, during which the Pt8 cluster preserves moderate fluxionality. Further analysis reveals a similar Pt-Pt bond length increase when switching from low μH to high μH on both surfaces although morphological transformations are different. Electronic structure analysis shows the existence of bonding interactions between Pt and Lewis acidic Al3+ sites along with the Pt-O interaction, which implies the necessity to include Al neighbors to discuss the electronic structure of small Pt clusters.

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