With the intensifying global need for alternative energy and fuels, there is strong interest in the development of efficient catalysts that can drive the chemical conversion of renewable resources into useful products. This talk will describe the use of an emerging synthetic strategy, atomic layer deposition (ALD), to generate nanoscale catalyst materials with a high level of control over composition, structure, and thickness. Two catalytic applications will be described. The first example is the conversion of synthesis gas (CO + H2) to synthetic liquid fuels and high-value chemicals using supported metal, heterogeneous catalysts. The promotion of rhodium-based catalysts, which have intrinsic selectivity towards desirable higher oxygenate production, is explored using various metal oxides deposited by ALD. The interactions between catalyst and promoter are studied using a variety of experimental techniques complemented by theory, and the promoted catalysts are shown to have an increase in activity and higher oxygenate selectivity relative to unpromoted Rh nanoparticles. The second application is electrocatalysis for clean production of fuels. We show that nanometer thick electrocatalyst layers of earth abundant materials deposited by ALD are active for the oxygen evolution reaction, and that hybrid materials active for the hydrogen evolution reaction can be grown by combining ALD with molecular layer deposition (MLD). The outlook for atomic layer deposition to synthesize nanoscale materials for catalytic applications will be discussed.
Stacey F. Bent is the Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the School of Engineering at Stanford University, where she is appointed Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor, by courtesy, of Chemistry, of Materials Science and Engineering, and of Electrical Engineering. Professor Bent serves as the Director of the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy and is a senior fellow in the Precourt Institute of Energy. Professor Bent obtained her B.S. degree in chemical engineering from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Stanford. After carrying out postdoctoral work at AT&T Bell Laboratories, she joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department at New York University. She moved to Stanford University in 1998. Professor Bent’s research focuses on understanding surface and interfacial chemistry and materials synthesis, and applying this knowledge to a range of problems in sustainable energy, semiconductor processing, and nanotechnology. Her research group currently studies new materials and processes for electronics, solar cells and solar fuels, and catalysts.