Catalytic Materials Topics at Texas Materials Institute
Many exciting activities are taking place in the Texas Materials Institute through the independent and coordinated activities of members with interests in catalytic chemistry and materials. These investigations span a broad range of conditions in temperature and pressure employing a plethora of catalytic materials. Additionally, a large arsenal of experimental probes are available to interrogate the molecular level physics and chemistry of these phenomena (including high-pressure catalytic reactors, ultra-high vacuum surface science instruments, surface vibrational spectroscopy, molecular beam apparatus, scanning tunneling microscopy, Auger electron spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, etc.). Studies of the interactions of molecules and atoms with the surfaces of single-crystalline metals are of interest as well as investigations of the chemistry of molecules with “model” catalytic materials. So-called “model” catalysts are constructed of thin films (10-20 nm) of support material (e.g., titania, silica, alumina) covering a metallic sample upon which nano-clusters of metal are placed. Such a “model” material mimics the chemistry of a real catalyst pellet under industrial conditions but also allows conditions in which microscopic details of the chemistry can be obtained. The effect of the size of the cluster is of great interest as well as the effect of the support on the cluster and gas of interest. Many other related activities are also taking place in the Texas Materials Institute.