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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Supported Metal Pair-Site Catalysts

  • Author(s): Guan, E
  • Ciston, J
  • Bare, SR
  • Runnebaum, RC
  • Katz, A
  • Kulkarni, A
  • Kronawitter, CX
  • Gates, BC
  • et al.

Complexes with neighboring metal centers in isolated pairs and their analogues on surfaces are drawing increasing attention as catalysts. These include molecular homogeneous catalysts incorporating various ligands, enzymes, and solids that include pairs of metal atoms mounted on supports. Catalysts in this broad class are active for numerous reactions and offer unexplored opportunities to address challenging reactions, such as oxidation of methane and oxidation of water in artificial photosynthesis. The subject of supported metal pair-site catalysts is in its infancy, facing challenges in (a) precise synthesis, (b) structure determination at the atomic scale, and (c) stabilization in reactive atmospheres. In this Perspective, we summarize key characteristics of molecular and enzymatic catalysts that incorporate neighboring metal centers and build on this foundation to assess the emerging literature of metal pair-site catalysts on various supports. The supported catalysts include those synthesized by anchoring molecular dinuclear precursors to support surfaces and those synthesized by selective formation of dinuclear surface species from mononuclear surface species. Examples of metals in this class are rhodium and iridium, and examples of supports are MgO and Fe2O3. We summarize characterization of these materials by electron microscopy and spectroscopy, emphasizing atomic-resolution aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy and spectroscopies that provide atomic-scale structural information and allow characterization of functioning catalysts, especially X-ray absorption spectroscopy. We list some opportunities for research, including suggestions that might lead to structurally well-defined supported metal pair-sites with new catalytic properties.

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