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11.
Monitoring of chemical processes at the atomic level by X-ray absorption spectrometry using extremely bright synchrotron radiation sources
Iztok Arčon, invited lecture at foreign university

Abstract: X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is a powerful tool for characterisation of local structure and chemical state of selected elements in different new functional materials and biological or environmental samples. The XAS spectroscopy is based on extremely bright synchrotron radiation X-rays sources, which allow precise characterisation of bulk, nanostructured or highly diluted samples. The rapid development of extremely bright synchrotron sources of X-ray and ultraviolet light in recent years has opened new possibilities for research of matter at the atomic or molecular level, indispensable in the development of new functional nanostructured materials with desired properties. The lecture will present the possibilities offered by X-ray absorption spectroscopy with synchrotron light for ex-situ and in-situ or operando characterization of various functional porous and other nanomaterials before, after and during their operation.
Keywords: XAS, operando XANES, EXAFS, functional materials
Published in RUNG: 01.06.2022; Views: 1440; Downloads: 0
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12.
Insight into the interdependence of Ni and Al in bifunctional Ni/ZSM-5 catalysts at the nanoscale
Hue-Tong Vu, Iztok Arčon, Danilo Oliveira de Souza, Simone Pollastri, Goran Dražić, Janez Volavšek, Gregor Mali, Nataša Zabukovec Logar, Nataša Novak Tušar, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Catalyst design is crucial for improving catalytic activity and product selectivity. In a bifunctional Ni/ZSM-5 zeolite type catalyst, catalytic properties are usually tuned via varying Al and Ni contents. While changes in acid properties associated with Al sites are usually closely investigated, Ni phases, however, receive inadequate attention. Herein, we present a systematic structural study of Ni in the Ni/ZSM-5 materials by using Ni K-edge XANES and EXAFS analyses, complemented by XRD and TEM, to resolve the changes in the local environment of Ni species induced by the different Al contents of the parent ZSM-5 prepared by a “green”, template free technique. Ni species in Ni/ZSM-5 exist as NiO crystals (3–50 nm) and as charge compensating Ni2+ cations. The Ni K-edge XANES and EXAFS results enabled the quantification of Ni-containing species. At a low Al to Si ratio (nAl/nSi # 0.04), the NiO nanoparticles predominate in the samples and account for over 65% of Ni phases. However, NiO is outnumbered by Ni2+ cations attached to the zeolite framework in ZSM-5 with a high Al to Si ratio (nAl/nSi ¼ 0.05) due to a higher number of framework negative charges imparted by Al. The obtained results show that the number of highly reducible and active NiO crystals is strongly correlated with the framework Al sites present in ZSM-5 zeolites, which depend greatly on the synthesis conditions. Therefore, this kind of study is beneficial for any further investigation of the catalytic activities of Ni/ZSM-5 and other metal-modified bifunctional catalysts.
Keywords: Ni/ZSM-5 catalysts, zeolite, Ni XANES, EXAFS
Published in RUNG: 11.05.2022; Views: 1741; Downloads: 44
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13.
Monitoring of chemical processes at the atomic level by X-ray absorption spectrometry using extremely bright synchrotron radiation sources
Iztok Arčon, unpublished invited conference lecture

Abstract: X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is a powerful tool for characterisation of local structure and chemical state of selected elements in different new functional materials and biological or environmental samples. The XAS spectroscopy is based on extremely bright synchrotron radiation X-rays sources, which allow precise characterisation of bulk, nanostructured or highly diluted samples. The rapid development of extremely bright synchrotron sources of X-ray and ultraviolet light in recent years has opened new possibilities for research of matter at the atomic or molecular level, indispensable in the development of new functional nanostructured materials with desired properties. The lecture will present the possibilities offered by X-ray absorption spectroscopy with synchrotron light for ex-situ and in-situ or operando characterization of various functional porous and other nanomaterials before, after and during their operation. With the operando micro-XANES and EXAFS methods it is possible to track changes in the valence states and local structures of selected elements in different energy storage materials or in various (photo)catalysts, during chemical reactions under controlled reaction conditions, thus gaining insight into the dynamic functional properties and reaction mechanisms of these materials. New synchrotron light sources also opened the possibility of combining X-ray absorption or emission spectroscopy and microscopy with a resolution of up to a few tens of nanometres, crucial for analysis of environmental and biological samples on sub-cellular level, to understand the mechanisms of uptake, transport, accumulation, and complexation of metal cations on subcellular level in various plant tissues or accumulation in environment, to develop effective remediation approaches.
Keywords: X-ray absorption spectroscopy, EXAFS, XANES, synchrotron radiation sources, operando
Published in RUNG: 15.12.2021; Views: 1924; Downloads: 0
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14.
Spectroscopic investigation of oxygen vacancies in CeO[sub]2 : dissertation
Thanveer Thajudheen, 2021, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: A unique material, ceria (CeO2), which is widely applied in automobile exhaust catalysts, is functional due to presence of defects in its crystal structure. Furthermore, the structural defects dictate electrical and chemical properties of ceria. The creation of intrinsic oxygen vacancies in ceria is responsible for oxygen-ion conductivity in solid oxide fuel cells. This unfolds the keen interest in ceria defects. Using the analytical technique cathodoluminescence spectroscopy (CLS) we can characterize ceria for its band gap and the defect states within the band gap. Since CLS has a high spatial resolution, high sensitivity to low concentration of defects and ability to obtain depth resolved information it is an obvious technique of choice. The first part of the thesis is an introduction to the topic and description of the experimental techniques. Importance of ceria as a multifaceted material finding applications in areas spanning from energy production and conversion to biomedical applications is detailed. CLS as a tool to understand defect-related optical properties and advancement in the CL detection systems are discussed. To study the relationship between local structure and its impact on CL emission spectra, an X-ray absorption spectroscopy techniques were used. The X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) and the Extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) techniques are summarized. The second part discusses CL emission from ceria. Initially, CL emission from reduced ceria and its dependence on oxygen vacancy concentration are presented. The origin of emission was attributed to different configurations of the oxygen vacancies and polarons. The recent F center description in ceria was adopted here. The intriguing observation of CL emission quenching as a function of oxygen vacancy concentration was explained on the basis of a relative change in population of F centers in ceria. This demonstrated the relevance of local structure for the CL emission in ceria. In order to have a better understanding of the system, La-doped ceria was proposed as a model system. A precise control over the stoichiometry helped to achieve a desired oxygen vacancy concentration. The CL emission behavior, as observed in reduced ceria, was replicated in the case of La-doped ceria and the analysis revealed that F+ centers favor CL emission whereas F0 centers are disadvantageous. The local structure investigation using EXAFS analysis of both cations Ce and La (K-Edge) showed distortion from the fluorite symmetry and corroborated the F center description of oxygen vacancies in ceria. Our results provide an experimental evidence for F center description involving oxygen vacancies and polarons.
Keywords: ceria, cathodoluminescence spectroscopy, local structure distortion, EXAFS analysis, La doped ceria, luminescence quenching, F centers, dissertations
Published in RUNG: 25.11.2021; Views: 2606; Downloads: 106
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15.
Resolving the dilemma of Fe-N-C catalysts by the selective synthesis of tetrapyrrolic active sites via an imprinting strategy
Davide Menga, Jian Liang Low, Yan-Sheng Li, Iztok Arčon, Burak Koyutürk, Friedrich Wagner, Francisco Ruiz-Zepeda, Miran Gaberšček, Beate Paulus, Tim-Patrick Fellinger, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: Combining the abundance and inexpensiveness of their constituent elements with their atomic dispersion, atomically dispersed Fe−N−C catalysts represent the most promising alternative to precious-metal-based materials in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Due to the high temperatures involved in their synthesis and the sensitivity of Fe ions toward carbothermal reduction, current synthetic methods are intrinsically limited in type and amount of the desired, catalytically active Fe− N4 sites, and high active site densities have been out of reach (dilemma of Fe−N−C catalysts). We herein identify a paradigm change in the synthesis of Fe−N−C catalysts arising from the developments of other M−N−C single-atom catalysts. Supported by DFT calculations we propose fundamental principles for the synthesis of M−N−C materials. We further exploit the proposed principles in a novel synthetic strategy to surpass the dilemma of Fe−N−C catalysts. The selective formation of tetrapyrrolic Zn−N4 sites in a tailor-made Zn−N−C material is utilized as an active-site imprint for the preparation of a corresponding Fe−N−C catalyst. By successive low- and high-temperature ion exchange reactions, we obtain a phase-pure Fe−N−C catalyst, with a high loading of atomically dispersed Fe (>3 wt %). Moreover, the catalyst is entirely composed of tetrapyrrolic Fe−N4 sites. The density of tetrapyrrolic Fe−N4 sites is more than six times as high as for previously reported tetrapyrrolic single-site Fe−N−C fuel cell catalysts
Keywords: Fe-N-C catalysts, selective synthesis, tetrapyrrolic active sites, EXAFS, XANES, single atom, DFT
Published in RUNG: 25.10.2021; Views: 2061; Downloads: 54
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16.
1,8-dihydroxy naphthalene (DHN) - melanin confers tolerance to cadmium in isolates of melanised dark septate endophytes
Mateja Potisek, Matevž Likar, Katarina Vogel-Mikuš, Iztok Arčon, Jože Grdadolnik, Marjana Regvar, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: The contribution of 1,8-dihydroxy naphthalene (DHN) melanin to cadmium (Cd) tolerance in two dark septate endophytes (DSE) of the genus Cadophora with different melanin content was investigated in vitro. The DSE isolate Cad#148 with higher melanin content showed higher tolerance to Cd than the less melanised Cad#149. Melanin synthesis was significantly reduced by Cd in both isolates with uninhibited melanin synthesis, in a dosedependent manner. Inhibition of melanin synthesis by tricyclazole reduced the relative growth of Cad#148 exposed to Cd and did not affect Cad#149. Cd accumulation was not altered by tricyclazole in the two isolates, but it increased catalase and reduced glutathione reductase activity in more melanised Cad#148, indicating higher stress levels. In contrast, in Cad#149 the enzyme activity was less affected by tricyclazole, indicating a more pronounced role of melanin-independent Cd tolerance mechanisms. Cd ligand environment in fungal mycelia was analysed by extended EXAFS (X-ray absorption fine structure). It revealed that Cd was mainly bound to O- and S-ligands, including hydroxyl, carboxyl, phosphate and thiol groups. A similar proportion of S- and Oligands (~35% and ~65%) were found in both isolates with uninhibited melanin synthesis. Among O-ligands two types with Cd-O-C- and Cd-O-P- coordination were identified. Tricyclazole altered Cd-O- ligand environment in both fungal isolates by reducing the proportion of Cd-O-C- and increasing the proportion of Cd-O-P coordination. DHN-melanin, among other tolerance mechanisms, significantly contributes to Cd tolerance in more melanised DSE fungi by immobilising Cd to hydroxyl groups and maintaining the integrity of the fungal cell wall.
Keywords: DSE, melanin, Cd tolerance, inhibitor tricyclazole, antioxidant enzymes, EXAFS
Published in RUNG: 13.07.2021; Views: 2166; Downloads: 0
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17.
Sn-modified TiO[sub]2 thin film photocatalysts prepared by low-temperature sol-gel processing : dissertation
Ksenija Maver, 2021, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: Due to many advantageous physiochemical properties, titanium dioxide (TiO2) is the most widely used photocatalyst in numerous applications, such as wastewater treatment and air purification, self-cleaning surfaces and energy conversion (H2 generation). However, one of its disadvantages is the high electron-hole recombination rate, and coupling with other semiconductors is one of the strategies to improve it. The objective of this dissertation was to investigate how the photocatalytic activity of pure TiO2 can be improved by tin modification and to explain the mechanism of increased or hindered photoactivity in correlation with the structural properties of the modified TiO2 photocatalysts. A new low-temperature sol-gel synthesis route was developed to prepare Sn- or SnO2-modified TiO2 photocatalysts. In both cases, organic tin and titanium precursors were used. Tin in the form of Sn cations was used to prepare Sn-modified TiO2. In this case, the precursors went through the sol-gel reaction together to form a Sn-TiO2 sol. In the case of SnO2 modification, the SnO2 sol was prepared separately and additionally mixed with the TiO2 sol to form a TiO2/SnO2 bicomponent semiconductor system. Different molar ratios of tin to titanium were prepared to investigate the correlation between the tin concentration and the photocatalytic properties of the photocatalysts in the form of thin films. The results were used to optimize the synthesis conditions to obtain an improved activity of the modified TiO2 photocatalysts under UV-irradiation. The photocatalytic activity of the thin films was determined by measuring the degradation rate of an azo dye. An increase of up to 40 % in the photocatalytic activity of the dried samples (at 150 °C) was achieved when the TiO2 was modified with the Sn or SnO2 in a concentration range of 0.1 to 1 mol.%. At higher Sn or SnO2 loadings and after calcination of the samples at 500 °C, the photocatalytic activity of the photocatalyst was reduced compared to the unmodified TiO2. Different characterization techniques (UV-Vis, XRD, nitrogen physisorption, TEM, SEM and XAS) were employed to clarify the mechanism responsible for the enhanced and hindered photocatalytic performance of the Sn- and SnO2-modified TiO2 photocatalysts. The results showed that a nanocrystalline structure is already achieved in the samples by the low-temperature film treatment (drying at 150 °C) and that the photocatalytic efficiency is mainly influenced by the crystalline phase composition: anatase/rutile in the case of Sn-modified and TiO2/SnO2 in the case of SnO2-modified TiO2. The crystal size and specific surface area differ insignificantly between the equally thermally treated samples and partly explain the differences in photoefficiency of the calcined samples compared to the dried samples. The structural study at the atomic level, using the Sn K-edge EXAFS, revealed that Sn cations act as nucleation sites for the anatase to rutile transformation in the Sn-modified TiO2 photocatalysts, while in the SnO2-modified TiO2 samples the nanocrystalline cassiterite SnO2 is bound to the TiO2 nanocrystallites via the Sn-O-Ti bond. In both cases, the advantage of coupling the two semiconductors was achieved by separating the charge carriers and thus prolonging their lifetime for accessibility to participate in the redox reactions. The maximum activity enhancement was achieved in the low concentration range (0.1–1 mol.%), which means that an optimal ratio and contact of the two phases are obtained for the given physical parameters, such as particle size, shape and specific surface area of the catalyst.
Keywords: Sn-modified TiO2, SnO2-modified TiO2, low-temperature sol-gel, thin films, photocatalytic activity, anatase/rutile system, Sn K-edge EXAFS, dissertations
Published in RUNG: 09.06.2021; Views: 4710; Downloads: 163
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18.
Photo-Chemically-Deposited and Industrial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 Catalyst Material Surface Structures During CO2 Hydrogenation to Methanol: EXAFS, XANES and XPS Analyses of Phases After Oxidation, Reduction, and Reaction
Maja Pori, Iztok Arčon, Venkata Dasireddy, Blaž Likozar, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: Industrial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 or novel rate catalysts, prepared with a photochemical deposition method, were studied under functional CH3OH synthesis conditions at the set temperature (T) range of 240–350 °C, 20 bar pressure, and stoichiometric carbon dioxide/hydrogen composition. Analytical scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray adsorption near edge structure (XANES) and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) methods were systematically utilized to investigate the interfaces, measured local geometry, and chemical state electronics around the structured active sites of commercially available Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 material or synthesized Cu/ZnO. Processed Cu K-edge EXAFS analysis suggested that various Cu atom species, clusters, metallic fcc Cu, Cu oxides (Cu2O or CuO) and the Cu0.7Zn2 alloy with hexagonal crystalline particles are contained after testing. It was proposed that in addition to the model’s Cu surface area, the amount, ratio and dispersion of the mentioned bonded Cu compounds significantly influenced activity. Additionally, XPS revealed that carbon may be deposited on the commercial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3, forming the inactive carbide coating with Cu or/and Zn, which may be the cause of basicity’s severe deactivation during reactions. The selectivity to methanol decreased with increasing T, whereas more Cu0.7Zn2 inhibited the CO formation through reverse water–gas shift (RWGS) CO2 reduction.
Keywords: CH3OH synthesis, Cu/ZnO-based catalyst, XPS, XANES, EXAFS analyses, Catalyst selectivity and activity
Published in RUNG: 03.06.2021; Views: 2345; Downloads: 0
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19.
In-situ XAS study of catalytic N[sub]2O decomposition over CuO/CeO[sub]2 catalysts
Maxim Zabilsky, Iztok Arčon, Petar Djinović, Elena Tchernychova, Albin Pintar, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: We performed in‐situ XAS study of N 2 O decomposition over CuO/CeO 2 catalysts. The Cu K‐edge and Ce L 3 ‐edge XANES and EXAFS analyses revealed the dynamic and crucial role of Cu 2+ /Cu + and Ce 4+ /Ce 3+ ionic pairs during the catalytic reaction. We observed the initial formation of reduced Cu + and Ce 3+ species during activation in helium atmosphere at 400 °C, while concentration of these species decreased significantly during steady‐state nitrous oxide degradation reaction (2500 ppm N 2 O in He at 400 °C). In‐situ EXAFS analysis further revealed a crucial role of copper‐ceria interface in this catalytic reaction. We observed dynamic changes in average number of Cu‐Ce scatters under reaction conditions, indicating an enlarging the interface between both copper and ceria phases, where electron and oxygen transfer occurs.
Keywords: in-situ XAS, Cu EXAFS, CuO/CeO2 nanorod catalys, N2O decomposition
Published in RUNG: 29.01.2021; Views: 3052; Downloads: 0
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20.
X-ray absorption spectroscopy analysis: in situ, operando, in vivo
Iztok Arčon, 2020, published scientific conference contribution abstract (invited lecture)

Abstract: X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is a powerful tool for characterisation of local structure and chemical state of selected elements in different new functional materials and biological or environmental samples. The XAS spectroscopy is based on extremely bright synchrotron radiation X-rays sources, which allow precise characterisation of bulk, nanostructured or highly diluted samples. With its two methods (XANES and EXAFS) it enables monitoring changes in valence states and local structures of constituent elements during chemical reactions under controlled reaction conditions, and it offers a possibility of a combination of X-ray spectroscopy and microscopy with sub-micron lateral resolution, crucial for analysis of biological samples on sub-cellular level. In this talk some typical examples of advanced XAS analysis will be presented.
Keywords: X-ray absorption spectroscopy, EXAFS, XANES, in-situ, operando
Published in RUNG: 17.10.2020; Views: 3191; Downloads: 0
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