General Lab Information

Sanjaya Senanayake

Chemist, Catalysis: Reactivity and Structure Group, Chemistry Division

Sanjaya Senanayake

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Chemistry Division
Bldg. 555
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000

(631) 344-4343

Sanjaya Senanayake is a PI in the Catalysis: Reactivity and Structure (CRS) Group and leads experimental investigations in surface science and heterogeneous catalysis for C-1 (CO2, CO, CH4) activation and in the synthesis of fuels. His main research interests are in the fundamental understanding of chemical transformations over surfaces of catalysts, enabled by the use of advanced experimental methods (imaging, spectroscopy and scattering) based on X-rays and electrons to elucidate active catalytic chemistry.

Research | Education | Appointments | Publications | Highlights | Awards

Research Activities

Catalysis: Reactivity and Structure

Research Interests

Heterogeneous Catalysis, surface science, synchrotron techniques, electron microscopy, nanoparticles, metal oxide chemistry, model and powder catalysts.


Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Chemistry, 2006
The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Bachelor of Technology in Materials with Honours (B.Tech. (Hons)), 2001
The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Professional Appointments

Chemist with Tenure, Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)
The Chemistry Division, 2020-Present

Chemist, Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)
The Chemistry Division, 2018-2020

Associate Chemist, Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)
The Department of Chemistry, 2014-2018

Assistant Chemist, Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)
The Department of Chemistry, 2012-2014

Postdoctoral Research Associate - Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)
The Department of Chemistry, Sept 2008 - 2012.

Postdoctoral Research Associate - Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Chemical Sciences Division, Aug 2005 - 2008.

Selected Publications

  • Liu Z, Huang E, Orozco I, Liao W, Palomino RM, Rui N, Duchon T, Nemšák S, Grinter DC, Mahapatra M, Liu P, Rodriguez JA, Senanayake SD (2020) Water-promoted interfacial pathways in methane oxidation to methanol on a CeO 2 -Cu 2 O catalyst. Science 368:513–517. doi: 10.1126/science.aba5005
  • Rodriguez JA, Remesal ER, Ramírez PJ, Orozco I, Liu Z, Graciani J, Senanayake SD, Sanz JF (2019) Water–Gas Shift Reaction on K/Cu(111) and Cu/K/TiO2(110) Surfaces: Alkali Promotion of Water Dissociation and Production of H2. ACS Catalysis 9:10751–10760. doi: 10.1021/acscatal.9b03922
  • Liu Z, Zhang F, Rui N, Li X, Lin L, Betancourt LE, Su D, Xu W, Cen J, Attenkofer K, Idriss H, Rodriguez JA, Senanayake SD (2019) Highly Active Ceria-Supported Ru Catalyst for the Dry Reforming of Methane: In Situ Identification of Ruδ+–Ce3+ Interactions for Enhanced Conversion. ACS Catalysis 9:3349–3359. doi: 10.1021/acscatal.8b05162
  • Lin L, Yao S, Liu Z, Zhang F, Li N, Vovchok D, Martínez-Arias A, Castañeda R, Lin J, Senanayake SD, Su D, Ma D, Rodriguez JA (2018) In Situ Characterization of Cu/CeO2 Nanocatalysts for CO2 Hydrogenation: Morphological Effects of Nanostructured Ceria on the Catalytic Activity. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 122:12934–12943. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.8b03596
  • Liu Z, Lustemberg P, Gutiérrez RA, Carey JJ, Palomino RM, Vorokhta M, Grinter DC, Ramírez PJ, Matolín V, Nolan M, Ganduglia-Pirovano MV, Senanayake SD, Rodriguez JA (2017) In Situ Investigation of Methane Dry Reforming on Metal/Ceria(111) Surfaces: Metal-Support Interactions and C−H Bond Activation at Low Temperature. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 56:13041–13046. doi: 10.1002/anie.201707538
  • Graciani J, Mudiyanselage K, Xu F, Baber AE, Evans J, Senanayake SD, Stacchiola DJ, Liu P, Hrbek J, Sanz JF, Rodriguez JA (2014) Highly active copper-ceria and copper-ceria-titania catalysts for methanol synthesis from CO 2. Science 345:546–550. doi: 10.1126/science.1253057
  • Mudiyanselage K, Senanayake SD, Feria L, Kundu S, Baber AE, Graciani J, Vidal AB, Agnoli S, Evans J, Chang R, Axnanda S, Liu Z, Sanz JF, Liu P, Rodriguez JA, Stacchiola DJ (2013) Importance of the Metal–Oxide Interface in Catalysis: In Situ Studies of the Water–Gas Shift Reaction by Ambient-Pressure X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 52:5101–5105. doi: 10.1002/anie.201210077
  • Senanayake SD, Stacchiola D, Rodriguez JA (2013) Unique Properties of Ceria Nanoparticles Supported on Metals: Novel Inverse Ceria/Copper Catalysts for CO Oxidation and the Water-Gas Shift Reaction. Accounts of Chemical Research 46:1702–1711. doi: 10.1021/ar300231p
  • Xu W, Si R, Senanayake SD, Llorca J, Idriss H, Stacchiola D, Hanson JC, Rodriguez JA (2012) In situ studies of CeO2-supported Pt, Ru, and Pt–Ru alloy catalysts for the water–gas shift reaction: Active phases and reaction intermediates. Journal of Catalysis 291:117–126. doi: 10.1016/j.jcat.2012.04.013
  • Senanayake SD, Sadowski JT, Evans J, Kundu S, Agnoli S, Yang F, Stacchiola D, Flege JI, Hrbek J, Rodriguez JA (2012) Nanopattering in CeOx/Cu(111): A New Type of Surface Reconstruction and Enhancement of Catalytic Activity. The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 3:839–843. doi: 10.1021/jz300159p
  • Senanayake SD, Evans J, Agnoli S, Barrio L, Chen T-L, Hrbek J, Rodriguez JA (2011) Water–Gas Shift and CO Methanation Reactions over Ni–CeO2(111) Catalysts. Topics in Catalysis 54:34–41. doi: 10.1007/s11244-011-9645-6

Research Highlights

Novel Chemical Reaction Supports Carbon-Neutral Industrial Processes

Three Brookhaven Scientists Named Oppenheimer Leadership Fellows

Converting Methane to Methanol—With and Without Water

Study Reveals Platinum's Role in Clean Fuel Conversion

Water is Key in Catalytic Conversion of Methane to Methanol

How Water Promotes Catalysis of Methane to Methanol

More than Just Support: MOFs as Intrinsic Catalysts

Cliff Gerlak: From U.S. Marine Veteran to Chemical Engineer

Despite Devastation, They—and Their Science—Go On

Interns Investigate Catalysts for a Greener Future

Three Brookhaven Lab Scientists Selected to Receive Early Career Research Program Funding

PubSci: The Cutting Edge of Chemistry

Brookhaven Lab-Led Research Aims to Develop Protections Against Chemical Warfare Agents

Catalyst Renders Nerve Agents Harmless

New Catalyst for Making Methanol from Methane

‘Super-catalyst’ Found to Purify Hydrogen

Awards & Recognition

United States Department of Energy: Oppenheimer Leadership Fellow                              2022

BNL Spotlight Award                                                                                                                    2021

BNL Spotlight Award                                                                                                                    2018

United States Department of Energy: Early Career Research Award                                   2017

NSLS/CFN Users Meeting Postdoc and Student Poster Prize                                             2007, 2008

L.H. Briggs Memorial Prize and Medal (2005), The University of Auckland                      2006

The University of Auckland Doctoral Completion Award                                                      2005

The University of Auckland Partnership Appeal Award                                                         2004

The University of Auckland Graduate Research Fund                                                           2003

NZ Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) Travel Award                                                                      2001

Sanjaya Senanayake

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Chemistry Division
Bldg. 555
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000

(631) 344-4343

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