Frenkel Leads Study Revealing Reversible Assembly of Platinum Catalyst

Anatoly Frenkel, a professor in Stony Brook University’s Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering and a senior chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, is part of a team that has uncovered new details of the reversible assembly and disassembly of a platinum catalyst.

The work, described in a paper just published in the journal Nanoscale, reveals how single platinum atoms on a cerium oxide support aggregate under reaction conditions to form active catalytic nanoparticles — and then, surprisingly, fragment once the reaction is stopped. The new understanding may offer clues to the catalyst’s stability and recyclability.

Anatoly frenkel

Fragmentation may sound shattering, but the scientists say it could be a plus.

“Such reversible fragmentation of a platinum nanocatalyst on cerium oxide could be potentially useful for controlling the catalyst’s long-term stability,” said Frenkel, who led the research.

When the platinum atoms return to their starting positions, they can be used again to remake active catalytic particles. Plus, the post-reaction fragmentation makes those active particles much less likely to fuse together irreversibly, which is a common mechanism that ultimately deactivates many nanoparticle catalysts.

“Part of the definition of a catalyst is that it helps disassemble and reassemble reacting molecules to form new products,” Frenkel noted. “But it was shocking to see a catalyst that also assembles and disassembles itself in the process.”

Frenkel, an affiliated faculty member with the Department of Chemistry and Institute for Advanced Computational Science, was recently elected as American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow for 2023, a distinguished lifetime honor within the scientific community. He was recognized in the section of Chemistry for distinguished contributions to the development and applications of in situ and operando synchrotron methods to solve a wide range of problems in chemistry and materials science.

Read the complete story at the Brookhaven National Laboratory website.

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