The shape of metal nanoparticles has a crucial role in their performance in heterogeneous catalysis as well as photocatalysis. We propose a method of determining the shape of nanoparticles based on measurements of single-electron quantum levels. We first consider nanoparticles in two shapes of high symmetry: cube and sphere. We then focus on Au nanoparticles in three characteristic shapes that can be found in metal/inorganic or metal/organic compounds routinely used in catalysis and photocatalysis. We describe the methodology we use to solve the Schrödinger equation for arbitrary nanoparticle shape. The method gives results that agree well with analytical solutions for the high-symmetry shapes. When we apply our method in realistic gold nanoparticle models, which are obtained from Wulff construction based on first principles calculations, the single-electron levels and their density of states exhibit distinct shape-dependent features. Results for clean-surface nanoparticles are closer to those for cubic particles, while CO-covered nanoparticles have energy levels close to those of a sphere. Thiolate-covered nanoparticles with multifaceted polyhedral shape have distinct levels that are in between those for sphere and cube. We discuss how shape-dependent electronic structure features could be identified in experiments and thus guide catalyst design.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited