SusChEM: Anchoring Single Noble Metal Atoms for Better Catalysis

Project: Research project

Project Details


SusChEM: Anchoring Single Noble Metal Atoms for Better Catalysis SusChEM: Anchoring Single Noble Metal Atoms for Better Catalysis This proposal focuses on synthesizing supported single-atom catalysts (SACs) with high levels of noble metal loading, investigating their atomic level structures and anchor sites, evaluating their catalytic performances, and investigating the synthesis-structure performance relationship of the proposed SAC systems. Specifically, we will systematically investigate the catalytic behavior of single noble metal atoms (Pt, Pd and Au) dispersed and anchored onto the surfaces of the selected metal oxides (Fe2O3/Fe3O4 nanostructures and ZnO nanowires/powders) with the goal of increasing the loading level of isolated single atoms to 1-2wt%. It is expected that with such high loading levels of anchored noble metal single atoms the activities of the synthesized SACs will far exceeding the current supported noble metal nanoparticle catalysts. The proposed research is transformative and will have a significant impact on the field of catalysis because it emphasizes not only on a fundamental understanding of the behavior of surface-anchored noble metal atoms but also the practical applications in important industrial processes. Development and optimization of novel synthesis procedures, detailed characterization of the catalyst structures by aberration-corrected and environmental electron microscopy techniques, and the catalytic evaluations of the synthesized SACs in important energy-related reactions, including CO oxidation, water-gas-shift reaction, and steam reforming of methanol, will be conducted. Utilization of novel properties of anchored single metal atoms on support surfaces provides unique opportunities in tuning the active sites for better selectivity and activity. With single metal atoms serving as catalytically active sites, the development of SACs significantly increases the atom efficiency of metal utilization, which is particularly important for reducing the cost of supported noble metal catalysts and the use of rare resources. Moreover, with well-defined and uniform single-atom dispersion, SACs possess great potential in achieving high selectivity, thus bridging the gap between hetero- and homo-geneous catalysis. The PI will use this research project as an example to promote fundamental understanding of nanoscience and nanotechnology and to demonstrate the principles of sustainability by reducing the usage of scarce resources and the costs of goods through innovative research. In addition to training graduate students in this new field of single-atom catalysis, the PI will broadly disseminate the knowledge, gained through the proposed research, to a broad range of students, especially the students in the Professional Science Masters in Nanoscience Program at Arizona State University (ASU), and the educational development of K-12 students via the John C. Wheatley Education and Outreach Facility and the Science is Fun program at ASU.
Effective start/end date8/1/157/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $549,998.00


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