Nanocrystal Catalysis

The ultimate goal of catalysis research is to achieve 100% selectivity for the desired products at maximum turnover rate (activity) without generating undesired byproducts. Ways to optimize activity and selectivity have been investigated on the atomic and molecular level using two-dimensional model catalysts (e.g. metal single crystals, nanoparticle arrays). It was found that key characteristics affecting both activity and selectivity are surface structure and particle size. Other features important to catalysis are site-blocking or bonding modifier additives and the metal-oxide interface. Development of a high surface area model catalyst will enable the study of the molecular ingredients which control activity and more importantly selectivity in the multifunctional (oxide / metal) composite systems. We have been developing methods for making metal nanocrystals with very narrow particle size distribution and well-defined shape. These nanoparticles are then assembled into 2-dimensional arrays using Langmuir-Blodgett technique or embedded in mesoporous oxide supports. These composites are considered as a high surface area model catalyst system as the precise control of nanocrystal size, shape, surface and interface should impart desired reaction selectivity and activity.


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