Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Watch Catalysts at Work

17.08.2016

Physicists at the University of Basel have succeeded in watching a silver catalyst at work for the first time with the aid of an atomic force microscope. The observations made during an Ullmann reaction have allowed the researchers to calculate the energy turnover and, potentially, to optimize the catalysis. The study, which was performed with experts from Japan and Iran, has been published in the scientific journal "Small".

The Ullmann reaction examined is a chemical reaction in which silver atoms catalyze the bond between two carbon atoms to which iodine was previously bonded. Although scientists have known about this type of reaction since 1901 and used it for many important chemical conversions, it was not previously possible to observe the intermediate product of the reaction in detail.


The intermediate product of the Ullmann reaction with the silver catalyst (silver) between the carbon rings (black) and sulfur atoms (yellow) curves like a bridge over the silver surface.

University of Basel, Department of Physics

Using an atomic force microscope, the team of researchers led by Professor Ernst Meyer and Dr. Shigeki Kawai from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Department of Physics at the University of Basel has now succeeded in displaying this reaction at atomic resolution.

Surprisingly, it was revealed that the silver atoms react with the molecules at temperatures of around -120°C and seem to curve like a bridge over a river. In the second stage of the reaction, which requires the temperature to be increased to around 105°C and generates the end product, the silver atoms are freed again and two carbon atoms bond together.

Calculating energy

The Ullmann reaction has been used for chemical syntheses for a long time now. Interest in this linking of carbon atoms has recently increased again because it can be used to bind organic molecules to surfaces and produce solvent-free polymers. Detailed observations of how the catalysts work enable scientists to better understand the reaction process.

Previous analyses failed to show the spatial arrangement of the organometallic intermediate product. The detailed images now obtained are the first to allow project partner Professor Stefan Goedecker (Department of Physics, University of Basel) to calculate the energy turnover of the Ullmann reaction examined. This data confirms the unusual spatial arrangement of the intermediate product and indicates how the reaction could be optimized.

Relatively low temperatures

The observed curving and flexibility of the molecules is probably the reason why the reaction requires relatively low temperatures of 105°C. The molecules are subject to mechanical tension and can therefore react more easily, that is at lower temperatures. If other catalysts could be used to generate intermediate products like these that are subject to tension, then catalytic reactions could also be possible at lower temperatures.

This would make ecological and economic sense because traditional catalysts with platinum, rhodium, or palladium often require high operating temperatures of 500°C, which leads to the emission of waste gases in a cold state.

The research work was the result of a collaboration between the Department of Physics at the University of Basel, the National Institute of Materials Science (Japan), the Japan Science and Technology Agency (Japan), the University of Tokyo (Japan), and Shadid Beheshti University (Iran).

Original source

Shigeki Kawai, Ali Sadeghi, Toshihiro Okamoto, Chikahiko Mitsui, Rémy Pawlak, Tobias Meier, Jun Takeya, Stefan Goedecker and Ernst Meyer
Organometallic Bonding in an Ullmann-Type On-Surface Chemical Reaction Studied by High-Resolution Atomic Force Microscopy
Small (2016), DOI: 10.1002/smll.201601216

Further information

Professor Ernst Meyer, University of Basel, Department of Physics, tel. +41 61 267 37 24, email: ernst.meyer@unibas.ch

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.unibas.ch/en/News-Events/News/Uni-Research/Basel-Researchers-Watch-C...

Olivia Poisson | Universität Basel

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods
19.10.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht NASA team finds noxious ice cloud on saturn's moon titan
19.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>