Our Approach to Catalysis Research
We synthesize catalysts with well-defined structures and use quantitative kinetic measurements and characterizations of their active centers to elucidate structure–reactivity relationships. Our studies are enriched by a network of collaborations (e.g., theorists) and advanced characterization tools at national laboratories. We apply our approach to study catalytic technologies relevant for decarbonization of the energy and chemical industries.
Thermochemical and Electrochemical Catalysis
Redox reactions are ubiquitous in the energy and chemical industries and can be carried out using either thermochemical or electrochemical driving forces. We are intrigued by the mechanistic similarities and differences of thermochemical and electrochemical reactions, and by catalysts that can perform both.
Designing Catalytic Microenvironments
Chemical interactions beyond the primary binding sites of catalysts can be critical for steering their reactivity and selectivity. We are working to understand, describe, and control these interactions that comprise the catalytic microenvironment.
Molecular View of Active Centers
Defining the active centers of heterogeneous catalysts with molecular precision offers opportunities to expand the scope of their reactivity. We are using our expertise in zeolite and doped-carbon synthesis to explore how heterogeneous catalysts can parallel the reactivity of molecular catalysts.
Impact and Applications of Catalysis Science
Mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change requires the sustained reduction of global carbon emissions, which motivates chemical engineers and chemists to reimagine the ways that energy and chemicals are produced. The next generation of catalytic processes to meet the grand challenge of decarbonization will include technologies that use renewable energy inputs, different feedstocks from petroleum, and spatially distributed production modalities. We are working to advance the fundamental science to develop catalytic technologies for decarbonization.