Altering a material's catalytic properties requires identifying structural features that give rise to active surfaces. Grain boundaries create strained regions in polycrystalline materials by stabilizing dislocations and may provide a way to create high-energy surfaces for catalysis that are kinetically trapped. Although grain-boundary density has previously been correlated with catalytic activity for some reactions, direct evidence that grain boundaries create surfaces with enhanced activity is lacking. We used a combination of bulk electrochemical measurements and scanning electrochemical cell microscopy with submicrometer resolution to show that grain-boundary surface terminations in gold electrodes are more active than grain surfaces for electrochemical carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction to carbon monoxide (CO) but not for the competing hydrogen (H2) evolution reaction. The catalytic footprint of the grain boundary is commensurate with its dislocation-induced strain field, providing a strategy for broader exploitation of grain-boundary effects in heterogeneous catalysis.
Extraterrestrial impacts have left a substantial imprint on the climate and evolutionary history of Earth. A rapid carbon cycle perturbation and global warming event about 56 million years ago at the Paleocene-Eocene (P-E) boundary (the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) was accompanied by rapid expansions of mammals and terrestrial plants and extinctions of deep-sea benthic organisms. Here, we report the discovery of silicate glass spherules in a discrete stratigraphic layer from three marine P-E boundary sections on the Atlantic margin. Distinct characteristics identify the spherules as microtektites and microkrystites, indicating that an extraterrestrial impact occurred during the carbon isotope excursion at the P-E boundary.
In the case of Jackie Robinson West, Little League court filings said the original league boundary map submitted when the team began tournament play accurately reflected the league boundaries -- but showed only five of the team's players lived within them. Maps submitted later by Jackie Robinson West then showed that all players lived within the boundaries, according to the court documents.
The properties of materials change, sometimes catastrophically, as alloying elements and impurities accumulate preferentially at grain boundaries. Studies of bicrystals show that regular atomic patterns often arise as a result of this solute segregation at high-symmetry boundaries, but it is not known whether superstructures exist at general grain boundaries in polycrystals. In bismuth-doped polycrystalline nickel, we found that ordered, segregation-induced grain boundary superstructures occur at randomly selected general grain boundaries, and that these reconstructions are driven by the orientation of the terminating grain surfaces rather than by lattice matching between grains. This discovery shows that adsorbate-induced superstructures are not limited to special grain boundaries but may exist at a variety of general grain boundaries, and hence they can affect the performance of polycrystalline engineering alloys.