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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Band-gap energy as a descriptor of catalytic activity for propene oxidation over mixed metal oxide catalysts.

  • Author(s): Getsoian, Andrew Bean
  • Zhai, Zheng
  • Bell, Alexis T
  • et al.

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The development of a descriptor or descriptors that can relate the activity of catalysts to their physical properties is a major objective of catalysis research. In this study, we have found that the apparent activation energy for propene oxidation to acrolein over scheelite-structured, multicomponent, mixed metal oxides (Bi3FeMo2O12, Bi2Mo2.5W0.5O12, and Bi1-x/3V1-xMoxO4, where 0 ≤ x ≤ 1) correlates with the band gap of the catalyst measured at reaction temperature. We show through theoretical analysis of the energy components comprising the activation energy why the band-gap energy is the primary component dependent on catalyst composition and, hence, why one should expect the activation energy for propene oxidation to correlate with the band-gap energy. We also demonstrate that the change in band-gap energy with composition arises from the interplay between the sizes and energies of the V 3d, Fe 3d, Mo 4d, and W 5d orbitals, which give rise to the lowest unoccupied crystal orbitals. Both the utility of the band-gap energy as a descriptor for catalytic activity and the role of orbital overlap in determining the band gap are likely to be general features in mixed metal oxide oxidation catalysts, enabling the rational design of catalysts with greater activity for oxidation reactions.

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