Atomically Designed Nanocatalysts

We are interested in heterogeneous catalysis based on atomically precise metal nanoclusters, which due to the unique well-defined structure and intriguing molecular like properties, opens  new opportunities for accurate studies of size-dependent properties, atomic structure effects and reaction mechanisms in catalysis.

The nanoclusters, once immobilized on surfaces, they represent truly controlled defined surfaces able to work at real conditions. We  explored the use of metal nanoclusters on surfaces as heterogeneous catalysts, strongly focusing on surface characterization. Using advanced spectroscopic techniques, we revealed insights into the interaction and stability of the clusters on oxide materials reaction conditions that could explained their catalytic behaviour.

Nanocluster Catalysts for Sustainable Processes

We focus on the efficient conversion of pollutants into useful feedstocks for fine chemicals or fuels and the generation of clean energy hydrogen. The composition of the active sites is atomically designed by mono-, bi- or trimetallic nanoclusters and supported on different types of oxide materials (such as CeO2, ZnO, zeolites, hydrotalcites, etc.). Some examples of the processes studied are water gas shift, CO2 reaction or hydrogenation of alkynes.

Asymmetric Heterogeneous Catalysts based on chiral nanoclusters

 Asymmetric catalysis is nowadays well established and a successful route for obtaining several enantiopure products – however, it is mostly limited to homogeneous systems. Studies on the development and characterization of heterogeneous chiral catalysts are still scarce. Au nanoclusters, due to their monodisperse nature and tunability, present perfect model systems for heterogeneous structure-activity studies. In addition, many of them are intrinsically chiral or can be made so by binding of chiral ligands. Therefore, we prepare chiral Au nanoclusters surfaces for testing in heterogeneous asymmetric catalysis, aiming at understanding the interactions between the immobilized chiral catalyst and the reactants, as a first step towards increased development of heterogeneous chiral cluster catalysts.