Research done by a team led by Stony Brook University Professor Anatoly Frenkel of the Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences is featured in a new article in Nature Communications that reports a solution of a longstanding problem in catalysis science: solving the active site structure in bimetallic catalysts at the atomic level.
The article, “Decoding Reactive Structures in Dilute Alloy Catalysts,” showcases the work done by a collaborative team from the Center for Integrated Mesoscale Architectures for Sustainable Catalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the Department of Energy. The team investigated a catalyst containing a low concentration (four and eight atomic percents) of Palladium atoms mixed with the majority of Gold atoms in nanoparticles approximately five nanometers in diameter. This class of catalyst is potentially very promising because it utilizes a minimal amount of precious metal and is highly active for many chemical reactions.
The team, led by Frenkel and Harvard University Professor Boris Kozinsky, developed a new approach for solving the structure of active sites containing just a few (from one to three) Pd atoms. The objective was to perform x-ray experiments at the National Synchrotron Light Source-II (QAS beamline) and measure catalytic activity of the Pd-Au catalyst in the same conditions, so that the differences in the x-ray spectra and the differences in the activity could be related to each other.