Mark Greiner and Travis Jones from the Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion and the Fritz-Haber Institute, along with a team of international researchers, have recently made a discovery that could transform the way chemicals are synthesized.
The chemical industry relies on high-performance catalysts to produce the chemicals used by society – such as fuels, plastics and medicines. Some chemicals cannot be efficiently produced because the needed catalysts have not yet been discovered. A great deal of contemporary research is aimed at designing novel catalysts to fulfill these roles.
Recently reported in the journal Nature Chemistry, Greiner, Jones and Co. discovered a phenomenon that occurs in metal alloys that could yield a new design paradigm for high-performance catalysts. The team of researchers found that when adding a very small amount of one metal to another, the minority element’s properties can change drastically, altering how it interacts with molecules. This finding is of particular interest to chemical industry, where the efficiency of chemical production often depends on how molecules interact with metal catalysts.
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The importance of this study was also recently highlighted in the “News & Views” section of Nature Chemistry by Christian Papp: Catalysis at the limit Nature Chemistry (2018). 10, 995-996