If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Analytical Chemistry

Imaging Industrial-Type Catalysts

Study yields element-specific, atomic-resolution view of nanostructured solid

by Mitch Jacoby
April 5, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 14

By using a novel electron microscopy method, an international team has recorded images of industrial-type nanostructured molybdenum disulfide catalyst particles with element specificity and single-atom resolution (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2010, 49, 2708). Previous studies that yielded atomic resolution details of MoS2, a hydrotreating catalyst used to strip sulfur from petroleum, typically focused on model single-crystal-supported specimens that were prepared under pristine vacuum conditions. In contrast, the current study—led by Stig Helveg of Danish catalyst manufacturer Haldor Topsøe, Christian Kisielowski of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and coworkers—focuses on MoS2 samples synthesized on graphitic carbon powder via the same methods used to manufacture catalysts for oil refineries. The researchers analyzed the samples with a recently developed transmission electron microscopy technique that enabled them to distinguish between one- and two-layer-thick regions of the particles and determine the chemical identity of the atoms throughout those regions. The results, which the team notes are in “excellent agreement” with computer simulations, could help establish new relationships between the catalyst’s function and atomic structure and could offer possibilities for improving catalyst formulations, they say.

By combining experimental (left) and simulated microscopy results, researchers pinpoint single- and double-layer regions in MoS2 catalyst particles (right).
Credit: Adapted from Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.