Copper nanoparticles are promising, low-cost candidates for the catalytic splitting of water and production of hydrogen gas. The present gas-phase study, based on the synthesis of copper-water complexes in ultracold helium nanodroplets followed by electron ionization, attempts to find evidence for dissociative water adsorption and H2 formation. Mass spectra show that H2O–Cu complexes containing dozens of copper and water molecules can be formed in the helium droplets. However, ions that would signal the production and escape of H2, such as (H2O)n−2(OH)2Cum+ or the isobaric (H2O)n−1OCum+, could not be detected. We do observe an interesting anomaly though: While the abundance of stoichiometric (H2O)nCum+ ions generally exceeds that of protonated or dehydrogenated ions, the trend is reversed for (H2O)OHCu2+ and (H2O)2OHCu2+; these ions are more abundant than (H2O)2Cu2+ and (H2O)3Cu2+, respectively. Moreover, (H2O)2OHCu2+ is much more abundant than other ions in the (H2O)n−1OHCu2+ series. A byproduct of our experiment is the observation of enhanced stability of He6Cu+, He12Cu+, He24Cu+, and He2Cu2+.
The European Physical Journal D
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
S. Raggl, N. Gitzl, P. Martini, P. Scheier, O. Echt Helium Nanodroplets Doped with Copper and Water Eur. Phys. J. D 72 (2018) 130, DOI: 10.1140/epjd/e2018-90150-7, July 2018.