Revealing Atomic Structure and Oxidation States of Dopants in Charge-Ordered Nanoparticles for Migration-Promoted Oxygen-Exchange Capacity

Xiangbin Cai, Kaiyun Chen, Xiang Gao, Chao Xu, Mingzi Sun, Guanyu Liu, Xuyun Guo, Yuan Cai, Bolong Huang, Junkai Deng, Jefferson Zhe Liu, Antonio Tricoli, Ning Wang, Christian Dwyer, Ye Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Doping of nanomaterials has become a versatile approach to tailoring their physical and chemical properties, leading to the emerging fields of solotronics and quantum-controlled catalysis. These extraordinary functionalities critically depend on the atomic arrangements and dynamic behaviors of dopants, which are however challenging to probe due to the ultrasmall volume of hosting nanomaterials and the even smaller scale of doping-induced structure variations. Here, we reveal the characteristic configurations of Ce dopants and their correlation with the remarkably enhanced oxygen-exchange capacity in <10 nm Mn3O4 nanoparticles. The element and oxidation-state sensitivity and quantification capability of atomic-resolution electron energy-loss spectroscopic mapping allow an unambiguous determination of substitutional solitary Ce dopants and CeO2 nanoclusters inside the charge-ordered Mn3O4 matrix, as well as single-atomic-layer CeOx on the surface. The observed high mobility of Ce dopants further illustrates an effective pathway for the conversion among various dopant nanophases. Our observation provides atomic-scale evidence of the oxygen-exchange mechanism through dopant migration in Ce-doped Mn3O4 nanoparticles, which rationalizes their superior redox efficiency and oxygen-exchange capacity for thermochemical synthesis of solar fuels. The demonstrated characterization strategy capable of directly probing local atomic and electronic structures of dopants can be widely applied to the investigation of structure-property interplay in other doping-engineered nanomaterials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5769-5777
Number of pages9
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 13 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry


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