Nanoscale Probing of Local Hydrogen Heterogeneity in Disordered Carbon Nitrides with Vibrational Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy

Diane M. Haiber, Peter Crozier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

In graphitic carbon nitrides, (photo)catalytic functionality is underpinned by the effect that residual hydrogen content, manifesting in amine (N-Hx) defects, has on its optoelectronic properties. Therefore, a detailed understanding of the variation in the local structure of graphitic carbon nitrides is key for understanding structure-activity relationships. Here, we apply aloof-beam vibrational electron energy-loss spectroscopy in the scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) to locally detect variations in hydrogen content in two different layered carbon nitrides with nanometer resolution. Through low dose rate TEM, we obtain atomically resolved images from crystalline and disordered carbon nitrides. By employing an aloof-beam configuration in a monochromated STEM, radiation damage can be dramatically reduced, yielding vibrational spectra from carbon nitrides to be assessed on 10's of nanometer length scales. We find that in disordered graphitic carbon nitrides the relative amine content can vary locally up to 27%. Cyano (C≡N) defects originating from uncondensed precursor are also revealed by probing small volumes, which cannot be detected by infrared absorption or Raman scattering spectroscopies. The utility of this technique is realized for heterogeneous soft materials, such as disordered graphitic carbon nitrides, in which methods to probe catalytically active sites remain elusive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5463-5472
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 26 2018

Keywords

  • EELS
  • graphitic carbon nitride
  • poly(triazine imide)
  • structural disorder
  • vibrational spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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