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November 6th, 2008
The problem for scientists and engineers has been that in order to tune a catalyst to do what is desired, you need to know how it adapts during a reaction. Trouble is, watching catalysts in action has escaped the reach of scientists until now.
With the aid of powerful spectroscopy technology, U.S. Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists observed catalysts restructuring themselves in response to various gases swirling around them.
The spectroscopy helps provide a window into these reactions for tuning catalysts. These insights are expected to help improve pollution control as well as fuel cell technologies. Smarter catalysts hold promise for removing toxins from water and helping feed hydrogen fuel cells.
Scientists used an advanced spectroscopy system at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source to study nanoparticles composed of two catalytic metals.
In the lab, Gabor Somorjai, a researcher who holds joint appointments with the Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and UC Berkeley's department of chemistry, teamed up with spectroscopy expert Miquel Salmeron of Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and UC Berkeley's department of materials sciences and engineering.
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