The Unprecedented Progress in Catalyst Study

Feb 27th, 2017

Independent researchers, one in Switzerland and one in Singapore, have presented important discoveries regarding the catalyst that might alter the way chemical industries currently view and exploit catalyst.

The Swiss undertaking, conducted by the PSI, Villigen and ETH Zurich institutions, have explored a technique for advancing the accuracy of experiments carried out to find the catalyst and to enhance their further use. The experimental arrangement of theirs allows reaching the precision to nanometers and taking records of the respective chemical response of every nanoparticle. According to Waiz Karim, who worked closely with PSI during the research, this breakthrough makes it possible to develop and upgrade the overall performance of the process of the catalyst. To achieve that says the research leader Jeroen van Bokhoven, one needs to obtain an acute grasp of how the catalyst works at the molecular level.

The study team took iron oxide and turned it into plain iron by adding hydrogen and a metal catalyst. They used platinum with divided molecular hydrogen into elemental one making it more responsive for reacting with iron oxide. Then, two particles — of platinum and iron oxide respectively—were placed in pairs by electron-beam lithography. This enabled the researchers to go through sixteen possible scenarios at once and control the length of space between the particles with an exceptional accuracy.

Never before has it been possible to obtain such accuracy in information on the particles’ positioning and the chemical reactions among them. At the same time, the Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (STAR), created an unprecedented model of growing water drops around particles on exterior areas.

To better forecast how water condenses over particles, the STAR explained the process with a mathematical pattern, which can also be used to calculate the size of the particles and evaluate how the surface is to react to drops forming around it.