More than 90 % of industrial chemicals see a catalyst. Nanoparticles with diameters of < 10 nm play an important role in this field, besides metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and zeolites. Catalysis is an interface-process and interfaces result in distortions and disorder compared to bulk structures. The PDF technique in contrast to common XRD is highly sensitive to reveal the structure of disordered materials. In particular, the size and atomic structure of supported metal clusters and nanoparticles on catalytic support materials such as metal oxides or MOFs can be investigated in-operando under catalytically relevant conditions, both in heterogeneous gas- and liquid-solid catalysis. Moreover, the MOFs themselves can be structurally analysed and how the porous linker networks evolve either during catalysis or particle impregnation.
In particular, our group is interested in understanding solid-liquid catalysis by accessing the structural properties of noble metal nanoparticles during catalysis as well as their solvation shells. As a model system we are currently working on hydration reactions of alkenes and ketones.
Associated PhD candidate: MSc Mirco Eckardt