KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Single Atom Catalysts for Sustainable Conversion of Synthetic Chemicals

  • Circularity and Replacement
  • Energy
  • Properties
  • Structures
Academic project

Research question

The principal scientific problem hindering a realization of an energy system based on sustainable chemistry is found in the control of interfacial catalysis. However, a predictive capacity in heterogeneous catalysis is still, even after intensive efforts, lacking. In order to realize synthesis of much needed new categories of highly efficient catalysts we must first establish an understanding of the relationships between the atomic structure of the active sites and the catalytic properties under relevant reaction conditions. This project addresses this problem. 

Structure-function relationships of catalysts can be established from preparation, often through physical vapor deposition (PVD). However, PVD deposition of metals on single crystals often leads to a broad size distribution that may include single atoms, clusters, and even nanoparticles. The purpose of this project is to synthesize novel single-atom model catalysts, at high metal coverages, on uniform and well-defined supports using a deposition technique derived from atomic layer deposition (ALD). The synthesis of these model catalysts will allow determination of the atomic structure and study the dynamic behavior of the catalytic active sites under relevant reaction conditions. From the results we will be able to extract atomic structure – catalytic function relationships that can be used describe the reaction mechanism. By using in-situ characterization techniques we can identify the true nature of the catalytic active sites under reaction conditions, identify reaction intermediates and determine the activity and selectivity of the model catalysts. 

 Sustainability aspects

Developments within heterogeneous catalysis holds the key for efficient conversion of chemical compounds at the massive scale required for complete substitution of fossil resources. To realize this goal, new highly efficient chemical conversion processes must be developed. These conversion processes should be based on appropriate variants of heterogeneous catalysis, primarily thermo- and electrocatalysis. The heterogeneous catalysts facilitating the processes must be energy effective (e.g., allowing reactions to proceed at low temperatures) and selective (produce high yields of the desired products). 

researcher photo

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Jonas Weissenrieder



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