One of the primary challenges in heterogeneous catalysis is understanding how catalytic activity, selectivity, and stability are dependent on the size and shape of catalytically active nanoparticles. Furthermore, as particle sizes decrease below a threshold diameter (~ < 5 nm), many transition metal catalysts have demonstrated unique properties and enhanced activity.
This project aims to understand the structure sensitivity aspects of Ni-based catalysts. Heterogeneous Ni-based catalysts are crucial within industry since Ni is economically attractive and able to catalyze a wide array of reactions. We are most interested in light alkene and aromatic hydrogenation, and deriving structure-activity relationships for Ni-catalyzed systems. These relationships will be used to tailor Ni catalysts, of increased efficiency with respect to conventional catalysts, for industrially relevant reactions.
The main goals of project are to:
- Develop novel approaches to synthesize reproducible, controllable, model catalysts.
- Varying catalyst specifications such as Ni particle size, with a desire to explore and develop approaches that obtain particles ranging between atomic and nanocluster scale. A range of supports will also be investigated, including conventional metal oxides (e.g. SiO2, Al2O3, etc.) and zeolites.
- Characterize synthesized catalysts using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), x-ray diffraction spectroscopy (XRD), infrared spectroscopy (IR), temperature programmed techniques (TPR, TPD), inductively coupled plasma (ICP-OES), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).
- Employ well defined Ni catalysts in model reactions to study and derive structure-activity relationships.
 D. Baudouin, K. C. Szeto, P. Laurent, A. De Mallmann, B. Fenet, L. Veyre, U. Rodemerck, C. Copéret, C. Thieuleux, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 20624-20627.