Department of Chemical Engineering
SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis
Hosted by Professor Richard Schaller
Catalytic processes are ubiquitous in industry and are crucial for the sustainable development and growth of our society. Many important catalyst discoveries in the past and current century allowed the population to grow, and the quality of life to improve considerably. Despite the incredible importance of these discoveries, in most cases edisonian approaches have been used to find efficient catalysts that could be scaled up to the industrial needs. Unfortunately, these approaches can only take us so far, and new solutions to important challenges are needed. A potentially more promising approach in developing catalytic materials is represented by the design of catalytic sites based on the knowledge of reaction mechanisms and structure-property relationships, and in the precise synthesis of these sites at the atomic and molecular level. To achieve this goal, model systems are used to decrease the complexity of realistic catalytic systems, but it is challenging to relate the models with realistic conditions. In order to fill this gap, nanocrystals, in which size, shape and composition can be accurately tuned close to atomic precision, are emerging as ideal tools that share advantages of model systems, yet can be
utilized under realistic conditions as efficient catalytic phases. The goal of this talk is to show how this approach can provide not only fundamental understanding of catalytic reactions, but also represent a way to precisely engineer catalytic sites to produce efficient catalysts that are active, stable and selective for several important catalytic transformations. Examples of this approach will be given in the areas of methane activation, photocatalysis, and in the design of active and stable materials for high-temperature reactions.
Matteo Cargnello is Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Terman Faculty Fellow at Stanford University. His group research interests are in the preparation and use of uniform and tailored materials for heterogeneous catalysis and photocatalysis, and the technological exploitation of nanoparticles and nanocrystals. Reactions of interest are related to sustainable energy generation and use, control of emissions of greenhouse gases, and better utilization of abundant building blocks (methane, biomass). Dr. Cargnello received his Ph.D. in Nanotechnology in 2012 at the University of Trieste (Italy) under the supervision of Prof. Paolo Fornasiero, and he was then a post-doctoral scholar in the Chemistry Department at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) with Prof. Christopher B. Murray before joining the Faculty at Stanford in January 2015. He is the recipient of several awards including the ENI Award Debut in Research 2013, the European Federation of Catalysis Societies Award as best European Ph.D. thesis in catalysis in 2013, and the Young Scientist Prize at the 16th International Congress on Catalysis in 2016.