Catalysis Science at Brookhaven

Meeting the energy needs of the twenty-first century will require large improvements in the efficiency of industrial chemical reactions in general and the establishment of the "hydrogen economy" in particular. Since heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis will play an important role in achieving these goals, experimental and theoretical studies of catalysis on gas/liquid/solid interfaces and by transition metal complexes and by nanoparticles comprise a growing research effort. There is considerable expertise in the Chemistry Department related to this field, cutting broadly across many groups in the Department. Active collaborations among members of several groups reflect the interdisciplinary nature of this work. Members of the following programs participate in Catalysis Science Research Theme (follow the individual links for more detailed descriptions):

Catalysis: Reactivity and Structure

The goal of this program is to provide an improved understanding of chemical catalysis, both heterogeneous and homogeneous, by elucidating details of the fundamental properties of molecules, surfaces, and their reactions that are critical to catalysis and energy conversion. Reactivity-structure correlations explored and unraveled by utilization of synchrotron radiation are a key aspect of these studies.

Catalysis on the Nanoscale

The purpose of this program is to explore and manipulate the size, morphology and chemical environment of metal-containing nanoparticles with the goal of optimizing their reactivity with respect to elementary reactions that are of widespread interest in heterogeneous catalysis. The application of new materials and methods emerging from nanoscience as applied to catalysis is one of the scientific thrusts of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials

Electrocatalysis and Surface Electrochemistry

Most of the research of this group is motivated by the challenge of developing improved electrocatalysts that can make fuel cells a practical source of clean energy. Thus, this research is directed towards the synthesis and characterization of Pt monolayer electrocatalysts supported by metal, metal alloy, core-shell and oxide nanoparticles, or single crystal extended surfaces.

Surface Chemical Dynamics

The goal of the Surface Chemical Dynamics Program is to elucidate the underlying physical processes that determine the products (selectivity) and yield (efficiency) of surface chemical transformations relevant to energy-related chemistry on catalytic and nanostructured surfaces. Achieving this end requires understanding the evolution of the reactant-molecule/surface complex as molecules adsorb, bonds dissociate, surface species diffuse, new bonds form and products desorb.

Catalyzed Water Oxidation

Coordinated experimental and theoretical studies of water oxidation using direct excitation of band-gap-narrowed n-type semiconductors to absorb a significant fraction of the solar spectrum, together with catalysts that promote four-electron water oxidation to O are carried out within this program.

Synchrotron based in situ Catalysis

The purpose of the Synchrotron Catalysis Consortium (SCC) is to promote the utilization of synchrotron techniques to perform cutting-edge catalysis nano-science research under in-situ conditions. The SCC provides assistance and develops new sciences/techniques of interest to the catalysis community through several concerted efforts including dedicated beamtime on X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (XAFS) beamlines; dedicated instrumentation, including state-of-the-art in-situ reaction cells, gas-handling systems, and advanced detectors; a dedicated research staff to assist the experimental set-up and data analysis; training courses and help sessions by the P.I.s and co-P.I.s; development and testing of new hardware and software for catalytic and electrocatalytic research

Advanced Fuels

(Energy, Environment and National Security Directorate) This program covers several areas of applied catalysis: hydrogen storage, petroleum geochemistry, fuel production and storage for natural gas-powered heavy vehicles, catalysts for natural gas-to-liquids conversions, methane hydrates, and production of ultraclean fuels.

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Last Modified: June 28, 2012