A new chapter has been opened in our understanding of the chemical activity of nanoparticles says a team of international scientists. Using the X-ray beams of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) they showed that the electrons absorbed and released by cerium dioxide nanoparticles during chemical reactions behave in a completely different way than previously thought: the electrons are not bound to individual atoms but, like a cloud, distribute themselves over the whole nanoparticle. Inspired by the similarity of its shape, the scientists call this spatial distribution of particles an "electron sponge." The results were published today in the journal ACS Nano.
The team of scientists was led by Pieter Glatzel from ESRF and Victor Puntes from the Universitá Autònoma of Barcelona, Catalan Institute of Nanotechnologies. The first author is Jean-Daniel Cafun from the ESRF.