skip to main content

Title: Dispersed metal cluster catalysts by design. Synthesis, characterization, structure, and performance

To understand the class of metal cluster catalysts better and to lay a foundation for the prediction of properties leading to improved catalysts, we have synthesized metal catalysts with well-defined structures and varied the cluster structures and compositions systematically—including the ligands bonded to the metals. These ligands include supports and bulky organics that are being tuned to control both the electron transfer to or from the metal and the accessibility of reactants to influence catalytic properties. We have developed novel syntheses to prepare these well-defined catalysts with atomic-scale control the environment by choice and placement of ligands and applied state-of-the art spectroscopic, microscopic, and computational methods to determine their structures, reactivities, and catalytic properties. The ligands range from nearly flat MgO surfaces to enveloping zeolites to bulky calixarenes to provide controlled coverages of the metal clusters, while also enforcing unprecedented degrees of coordinative unsaturation at the metal site—thereby facilitating bonding and catalysis events at exposed metal atoms. With this wide range of ligand properties and our arsenal of characterization tools, we worked to achieve a deep, fundamental understanding of how to synthesize robust supported and ligand-modified metal clusters with controlled catalytic properties, thereby bridging the gap between active site structuremore » and function in unsupported and supported metal catalysts. We used methods of organometallic and inorganic chemistry combined with surface chemistry for the precise synthesis of metal clusters and nanoparticles, characterizing them at various stages of preparation and under various conditions (including catalytic reaction conditions) and determining their structures and reactivities and how their catalytic properties depend on their compositions and structures. Key characterization methods included IR, NMR, and EXAFS spectroscopies to identify ligands on the metals and their reactions; EXAFS spectroscopy and high-resolution STEM to determine cluster framework structures and changes resulting from reactant treatment and locations of metal atoms on support surfaces; X-ray diffraction crystallography to determine full structures of cluster-ligand combinations in the absence of a support, and TEM with tomographic methods to observe individual metal atoms and determine three-dimensional structures of catalysts. Electronic structure calculations were used to verify and interpret spectra and extend the understanding of reactivity beyond what is measurable experimentally.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL (United States)
  3. Univ. of California, Davis, CA (United States)
  4. Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of California, Davis, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
77 NANOSCIENCE AND NANOTECHNOLOGY; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY catalysis; metal clusters; supported catalysts; molecular catalysts; catalyst synthesis