In Situ Nanocharacterization of the Synthesis and Early Evolution of Supported Metal and Bimetallic Nanoparticles for Catalytic Applications

Project: Research project

Project Details


We are undertaking fundamental nanoscale studies on the preparation and evolution of supported metal catalyst with applications to energy. In particular we are focusing on model catalysts for partial oxidation of methane because of their relevance to hydrogen production and sustainable energy. We are also working on supported metal photocatalysts for solar fuel generation. We rely heavily on in situ transmission electron microscopy to correlate the nanostructures formed under near reactor conditions with catalytic activity. In the first few years of the project we have concentrated on the preparation of model Ni/SiO2 nanocatalysts which are active for partial oxidation of methane and provide us with well-defined systems for following the morphology and compositional evolution at the nanometer level in the TEM. We are now able to prepare nanocatalysts under reasonably controlled conditions, determine conversion efficiencies in the reactor and study the evolution of the system during calcination, reduction and partial oxidation of methane. Recently we have developed a homemade photoreactor and have been able to synthesize methane from CO2 using Cu/TiO2. We would like to employ an undergraduate student to participate in this research. In their project, the student will prepare a series of NiRh/SiO2 bimetallic nanocatalysts using coimpregnation techniques. They will participate in the nanocharacterization of the sample with electron microscopy and catalytic characterization for partial oxidation of methane. They will determine particle size distribution of the material, calculate specific surface areas and investigate the compositional heterogeneity of the bimetallic particles and correlate this with methane conversion data from the microreactor. The undergraduate will develop an appreciation of the importance of understanding the relationship between surface properties, nanostructure and catalyst activity.
Effective start/end date8/1/067/31/10


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $335,997.00


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