Authors: Dou Du, J. Kullgren, K. Hermansson and P. Broqvist
Several studies have reported a dramatically increased oxygen storage capacity (OSC) for small ceria nanoparticles (∼5 nm). Both experiments and theory have correlated this effect with superoxide ion formation. In previous studies, density functional theory (DFT) calculations with the PBE+U density functional have been used, and the obtained results were only in qualitative agreement with the experimental observations. One severe problem is the underbinding of the O2 molecule upon superoxide ion formation, which suggests that such species should not exist above room temperature. In this work, we use hybrid DFT functional to resolve this problem. We find that the discrepancy between theory and experiment originates from an incorrect estimate of the energy associated with the localized f-electrons with respect to the oxygen p-levels. By using average O2 adsorption energies from hybrid DFT calculations, extrapolated to large nanoparticles (3−10 nm), in conjunction with first-order desorption kinetics, we find that superoxide ions are indeed stable on nanosized ceria well above room temperature, in accordance with experiments.