PerspectiveChemistry

Active Site of an Industrial Catalyst

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  18 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6083, pp. 810-811
DOI: 10.1126/science.1222974

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Summary

The active site of a heterogeneous catalyst can be thought of as the ensemble of atoms that directly catalyzes a reaction. Knowledge of the structure and composition of the active site is crucial for understanding and improving the properties of catalysts (1, 2). The advent of atomically resolved in situ spectroscopies, enhanced surface science techniques, and accurate electronic structure calculations has led to important advances in understanding single crystal-based catalysts and metal nanoparticles (37). However, little progress has been made in probing the active sites of more challenging catalysts, in which interactions between the active metals and the oxide supports are highly synergistic and sensitive to the environmental and reaction conditions (8). On page 893 of this issue, Behrens et al. (9) report a comprehensive experimental and theoretical analysis of the active site structure of one such catalyst that is of crucial importance in industry.