Research discovers new method to expand capabilities of chemical catalysts

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In a chemical reaction, a catalyst plays the role to speed up the process and remain intact. However, not every part of the catalyst participates in the reaction. A catfight in a neighborhood, wherein not every house in the neighborhood intervenes to stop the fight is an analogy. But if the parts of the catalyst that are not engaged could be made to get involved, chemical reactions would happen faster or more efficiently.

A team of material scientists at Stanford University did this by using light and advanced characterization and fabrication techniques to furnish catalysts with new abilities.

A proof-of-concept experiment to explain this involved use of palladium rods, with a width of 1/200th that of a human hair used as catalysts. The nanorods were placed above gold nano bars to focus and sculpt the light around the catalyst. Due to this arrangement, the sculpted light changed the areas on the nanorods where chemical reactions took place.

Finding paves way to develop superior catalysts

The work published in Science could be the first step toward to develop more efficient catalysts, for new models of catalytic transformations and even to develop catalysts capable of handling more than one reaction at the same time.

β€œIn fact, the research is an important development in a bid to discover catalysts that are optimized from atomic-scale to reactor-scale,” stated the senior author of the study. Therefore, the objective is to understand the details pertaining to shape and composition that can expand the reactive area of the catalyst as much as possible, and control the reactions that are occurring.

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