Argonne National Laboratory

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From Model Systems to Efficient Catalytic Materials: One Nanocrystal Fits All

Series 
NST Colloquium
Presenter 
Matteo Cargnello, Stanford University
May 31, 2017 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Location 
Building 440, Room A105-106
Type 
Colloquium

Abstract: Catalytic processes are ubiquitous in industry and are crucial for the sustainable development and growth of our society. Many important catalyst discoveries in the past and current century allowed the population to grow, and the quality of life to improve considerably. Despite the incredible importance of these discoveries, edisonian approaches have been used in most cases to find efficient catalysts that could be scaled up to the industrial needs and the growing demand. Unfortunately, these approaches can only take us so far, and new solutions to important challenges are needed.

A responsible approach in developing catalytic materials is represented by the design of catalytic sites based on the knowledge of reaction mechanisms and structure-property relationships, and in the precise synthesis of these sites at the atomic and molecular level. To achieve this goal, model systems are used to decrease the complexity of realistic catalytic systems, but it is challenging to relate the models with realistic conditions. In order to fill this gap, nanocrystals, in which size, shape and composition can be accurately tuned close to atomic precision, are emerging as ideal tools that share advantages of model systems, yet can be utilized under realistic conditions as efficient catalytic phases.

The goal of this talk is to show how this approach can provide not only fundamental understanding of catalytic reactions, but also represent a way to precisely engineer catalytic sites to produce efficient catalysts that are active, stable and selective for several important catalytic transformations. Examples of this approach will be given in the areas of methane activation, photocatalysis, and in the design of active and stable materials for high-temperature reactions.