Single-atom heterogeneous catalysts (SACs) comprise spatially isolated metal centres stabilized on the surface of a carrier material. Lately, these catalysts have received much attention because of their excellent metal utilization, atomic definition, and unique reactivity. Nonetheless, a primary problem when synthesizing SACs on the macroscale is the propensity for metal atoms to aggregate into clusters or nanoparticles. Droplet-based reactors are potentially useful for synthesizing SACs, since both mass and heat transport can be controlled in a precise and rapid manner. In collaboration with the Pérez-Ramírez group at ETH Zürich, Thomas Moragues has recently reported the use of a droplet-based microfluidic reactor to synthesize Pd and Pt-supported carbon nitride SACs.
Under appropriate conditions, the authors were able to generate single Pd and Pt atomic centers stabilized on graphitic carbon nitride within just 10 seconds. This confirms the electrostatic nature of adsorption and highlights the rapid kinetics of the component reactions. In general, this work constitutes an exciting and important step toward the high-throughput screening of reaction conditions associated with SAC synthesis and suggests a powerful strategy for discovering new and improved single-atom catalysts.
Written by Javier Hernández
Read the published article here.