Prof. Beatriz Roldan Cuenya (FHI)
Department of Interface Science, Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin
Tailoring the chemical reactivity of nanomaterials at the atomic level is one of the most important challenges in catalysis research. However, in order to ach ieve this elusive goal, we must first obtain fundamental understanding of the structural and chemical properties of these complex systems. In addition, the dynamic nature of the nanoparticle (NP) catalysts and their response to the environment must be taken into consideration. Despite the significant progress in experimental tools for NP characterization and theoretical NP modeling approaches, understanding the relation between intriguing properties of metal NPs (e.g., catalytic activity or unique thermodynamic characteristics) and their structure and surface composition is still a challenging task. The intrinsic complexity and heterogeneity of NPs, their interactions with the support, ligands and adsorbates, as well as in situ transformations of their structure pose significant difficulties both for theoretical modeling and for the interpretation of experimental data. In this talk I will address the complexity of real-world catalysts by taking advantage of a variety of cutting-edge complementary experimental methods (EC-AFM, EC-TEM, STM, TPD, NAP-XPS, XAFS, MS/GC).
In particular, I will provide new insights into the thermal hydrogenation and electrocatalytic reduction of CO2. Important aspects that will be discussed are: (i) the design of size-and shape-controlled catalytically active NPs (Cu, Cu-Zn) on C, Al2O3, ZnO, ZnOAl, SiO2, and (ii) the investigation of structure/chemical state-reactivity correlations in situ and under realistic operando reaction conditions, i.e., at high pressure or under potential control. Overall, our results are expected to open up new routes for the reutilization of CO2 through its direct conversion into valuable chemicals and fuels such as ethylene, methanol and ethanol.