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Near-Field Spectroscopic Imaging of the Assembly and Working of Nanosheets of Catalytic Porous Materials (NanoInspection)
Start date: Apr 1, 2013, End date: Mar 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The pressing need for a more sustainable society has sparked intensive research efforts in search for novel materials with controlled structure, porosity and functionalities. Such porous materials may combine high catalytic activity and selectivity with a long-term stability in the conversion of renewable (e.g. biomass) and non-renewable feedstock when producing future transportation fuels and chemicals. Rational design and optimization of the catalytic properties of these materials is one of the keys for the transition from a fossil fuels based society to a sustainable society.Useful porous catalytic solids are still largely discovered through a combination of trial-and-error, serendipity and high-throughput testing, mainly because not much is known about the molecular details of their formation and working. Such knowledge is needed to tailor these porous solids towards optimal functioning.My goal is to obtain fundamental insights in the formation and catalytic functioning of crystalline porous materials. Nano-sized sheets of porous materials will be constructed as model systems amenable to nano-spectroscopic research. We will explore Tip Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy and Scanning Near-Field X-ray Microscopy as novel analytical tools in combination with a specially designed high-pressure/high-temperature in-situ Atomic Force Microscopy cell. In this way, Raman and X-ray spectra can be obtained at the nanoscale of e.g. a growing metal organic framework nanosheet. The novel tools and models will be used to study the chemistry of synthesis, self-assembly and catalysis. We will address catalyst stability by investigating catalyst corrosion in the presence of various polar molecules (water, alcohols, organic acids). It is expected that the new insights will make it possible to determine proper synthesis and reaction conditions leading to the assembly of improved catalytic porous materials, optimized for selective conversion of carbohydrates and lignin-related compounds.
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