The major research avenues of our group is the study of the preparation of solid catalysts. A typical example is the platinum or rhodium containing automobile catalytic converter used to eliminate carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and hydrocarbons from auto exhaust. Solid catalysts are usually composed of a metal or metal oxide deposited onto or supported on a high surface area, refractory oxide, which produces small, well anchored metal particles with a maximum amount of exposed metal surface.
Our current efforts involve the use and comparison of different methods for synthesis of a variety of catalysts especially using Strong Electrostatic Adsorption ( SEA ) in producing catalysts with high dispersion. The studies are also done to rigorously and systematically verify an underlying theory we have revived from the colloid science literature to predict how much metal will be adsorbed by the oxide for a full range of liquid conditions. We also investigate coupled methods for catalyst synthesis especially in the cases of bimetallic and bifunctional catalysts.
In a second vein of work, we look at a further step of catalyst preparation. After impregnation and drying, the catalyst is put through a series of heat and chemical treatments to activate the metal. We study how the shape and chemical structure of the deposited metal particles change as a function of pretreatment conditions. In some cases the size and shape of particles can be controlled. For these studies we use various types of characterization techniques such as electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction.