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. Methods for optimizing activity and selectivity have been investigated on the atomic and nanoscopic levels using shape, size, and composition control in nanocrystal synthesis. Incorporating two or more elements in a given material can provide multifunctional surface sites or materials properties not possible with a single element. Compositional gradients and specific elemental positioning can further tune the surface properties, as can shape and size control to expose desired surface facets. On a macroscopic level, nanocrystals are precisely arranged on supporting substrates to achieve desired functionality. One-dimensional supports can provide directionality for catalyst deposition. Two-dimensional supports can provide a platform for highly oriented arrays of nanoparticles, while three-dimensional supports provide the capability to obtain extremely high loading density and activity. Atomically-sensitive characterization techniques both ex situ and in situ allow the underlying mechanisms of selectivity and activity enhancement to be elucidated for a given nanocrystal design.


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