Professor Suljo Linic of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor is jointly supported by the Chemical Catalysis Program of the Division of Chemistry and the Catalysis and Biocatalysis Program of the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems Division to test the hypothesis that plasmonic nanostructures of silver (Ag) can concurrently utilize thermal energy and a low intensity photon flux to drive catalytic oxidation reactions on Ag nanoparticles at lower temperatures than conventional thermally-driven processes. Ag nanostructures of targeted sizes and shapes will be prepared and used to tune the energy of surface plasmons and control the transfer of energetic electrons into adsorbate states (orbitals) in order to achieve selective chemical transformations. The proposed experiments will be combined with theoretical calculations.
Despite substantial advances in the science of heterogeneous catalysis over the years, much remains to be done for the rational design and synthesis of catalytic materials for targeted chemical transformations. The proposed research will focus on the investigation of the potential of plasmonic metallic nanostructures to activate targeted chemical transformations using low intensity light flux, allowing the catalysts to operate at lower temperatures. This promises to significantly improve catalysts stability, energy efficiency, and product selectivity. Students will be trained in sophisticated research methods, and activities will be organized to educate high school students and the general public on heterogeneous catalysis using web vehicles of content delivery such as YouTube.