Surface Chemistry and Catalysis

Our research focuses on the fundamental understanding of structure-reactivity relationships of nanocatalysts for heterogeneous catalysis. The research involves controlled catalyst growth by design, in-situ characterization of catalyst structures, as well as chemical mechanism studies. The design and synthesis of catalytic materials with controlled structures and characteristics at the atomic/molecular scale as well as a thorough characterization coupled with the understanding of the local structure can provide important knowledge for the engineering of materials with desirable properties for specific applications.


We use two approaches to investigate heterogeneous nanocatalysts. Surface science studies of well-defined model surfaces under ultrahigh vacuum conditions using combined spectroscopy and microscopy techniques can achieve full control and characterization of catalytic systems as well as catalytic reaction conditions. This approach can enable identification of molecules, catalyst clusters, and substrates of interest, assist with understanding the detailed reaction mechanism, and provide the connection between chemical properties and designed structures at the atomic/molecular scale. Catalytic studies of powders and nanostructures under reactor conditions can address an important question whether the results obtained using model catalysts are representative of real-world catalysts.


Current Research Topics

    Structures and chemical states of ceria-supported metal nanoparticles

    Growth and characterization of metal dopant/ceria mixed oxide surfaces

    Structure and chemistry of metal nanoparticles supported on metal-doped ceria

    Multi-functional doped ceria-supported metal nanocatalysts for dry reforming of methane

    Studies of transition metal-tailored MoS2




Design of modular control systems for live monitoring of long-term

and multi-channel dry reforming of hydrocarbon reactions




Funding Support