The Sub-10 nm Challenge in Single Particle Catalysis
Catalysis is key in production of important chemicals. It is also relevant in emerging technologies such as fuel cells and solar fuels, and for environmental pollution mitigation, with vehicle catalytic converters as most prominent example. It typically occurs on metal nanoparticles in the size range of 1 to 10 nm, a regime with strong correlations between particle size, shape and catalytic activity. However, to date, experimental investigations of such correlations are conducted on ensembles that contain billions of particles, which are impossible to make exactly alike at the atomic level. Hence, averaging plagues such studies and limits our ability to develop and optimize catalyst materials. It is therefore the ambitious goal of this 6-year project to correlate – 1:1 – the catalytic activity of individual nanoparticles with their composition, size and shape in the sub-10 nm range by consolidating and further pushing our ongoing efforts in single particle catalysis. For this purpose, a project team comprising catalysis, nanofabrication and optical spectroscopy experts will establish a groundbreaking combination of nanofluidic reactor technology and single-nanoparticle optical phase microscopy. The developed solution will enable quantitative analysis of single particle activity and reaction products, thanks to the unique ability of a nanoreactor to collect and localize molecules at the nanoscale, and of phase microscopy to address single-10 nm sub particles in operando.
Christoph Langhammer (contact)
Professor at Chalmers, Physics, Chemical Physics
Swedish Research Council (VR)
Funding Chalmers participation during 2019–2024