Pd nanocrystals with continuously tunable high-index facets as a model nanocatalyst

Knowledge of the structure–reactivity relationship of catalysts is usually gained through using well-defined bulk single-crystal planes as model catalysts. However, there exists a huge gap between bulk single-crystal planes and practical nanocatalysts in terms of size, structural complexity, and local environment. Herein, we efficiently bridged this gap by developing a model nanocatalyst based on nanocrystals with continuously tunable surface structures. Pd nanocrystals with finely tunable facets, ranging from a flat {100} low-index facet to a series of {hk0} high-index facets, were prepared by an electrochemical square-wave potential method. The validity of the Pd model nanocatalyst has been demonstrated by structure–reactivity studies of electrocatalytic oxidation of small organic molecules. We further observed that Pd nanocrystals exhibited catalytic performance considerably different from bulk Pd single-crystal planes with the same Miller indices. Such differences were attributed to special catalytic functions conferred by nanocrystal edges. This study paves a promising route for investigating catalytic reactions effectively at the atomic level and nanoscales.