Our research provides atomic-level insight into the working principles of catalytic nanomaterials. The aim is to rationally design catalysts on this fundamental knowledge base for use in better environmental protection technologies and renewable energy production.
We investigate how we can control nanoscale properties such as nanoparticle size, shape and surface structure to improve catalytic activity. We carry out this research by imaging catalyst surfaces under the influence of reactants directly at the atomic scale by using a range of scanning tunneling microscopes (STM) and atomic force microscopes (AFM). A current research goal is to develop improved catalysts for the reduction of smog problems caused by NOx and SOx emissions. A key to catalyst development is to understand how support materials can be chemically modified or nanostructured to better anchor the nanoparticles in a bottom-up process. This research theme is pursued for the Cu/ZnO catalyst used for methanol synthesis (a possible biofuel) and various metal catalysts on the most common support in industrial catalysts, Al2O3.
Although our research on catalysis is fundamental in character, it is of distinct importance to the catalysis industries, and we collaborate with several companies and research institutes. Catalysis is a truly interdisciplinary research area and we continuously look for new opportunities for collaborations.