PerspectiveCATALYSIS

Fewer defects, better catalysis?

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Science  14 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6479, pp. 737
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba6435

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Summary

Surface defects of nanomaterials can serve as active sites for adsorption and chemical transformations in heterogeneous catalysis (1, 2). However, the defects in catalyst supports can also induce carbon deposition to deactivate the catalysts. This issue is particularly relevant for supported metal catalysts, a major category of heterogeneous catalysts, which deactivate because of the formation of carbon-based materials on catalyst surfaces after prolonged use, through a process called coking (3). Developing supported metal catalysts with coking and sintering resistance with high catalytic activity in high-temperature applications remains a great challenge (4). On page 777 of this issue, Song et al. (5) address this critical issue by choosing a defect-free single-crystalline magnesium oxide (MgO) as a support and then blocking the active step edges with nickel-molybdenum (Ni–Mo) nanocatalysts, achieving coke- and sintering-resistant activity in quantitative production of synthesis gas from dry reforming of methane (CH4).

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