Surface and Nanomolecular Catalysis
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1-57444-481-6 CRC Taylor & Francis 2006
Catalysts are materials that change the rate at which chemical equilibrium is reached without themselves undergoing any change. Through the phenomenon of catalysis, very small quantities of a catalytic material can facilitate several thousand transformations. In addition to the remarkable increases in activity observed in the presence of a catalyst, an additional attribute of catalysts is that there is often a selectivity toward certain reaction products. Often, this selectivity is of greater importance than activity since a highly selective process eliminates the generation of wasteful by-products.
Few terms have been more commonly used and abused in the scientific literature than nano. However, if one is able to sift through the vast amounts of nano literature, there are also numerous reports that are of both academic and commercial importance. This is particularly true for the field of catalysis in which rapid progress is being made that has transformed this once black art into a science, which is understood on a molecular and even atomic level. These gains have been particularly driven by the fields of surface and nanomolecular science with improvements in instrumentation and experimental techniques that have facilitated scientists’ observations on the nano-size scale. While the field of catalysis has a dramatic impact on our daily lives, it does not receive a proportional coverage in the typical undergraduate and graduate educations. This is possibly due to the broad range of expertise involved in the field, which includes physics, chemical engineering, and all subdisciplines of chemistry. The impact of catalysis in our current everyday lives cannot be understated. It was recently estimated that 35% of global GDP depends on catalysis. In addition, there are major hurdles for mankind that may be overcome with developments in catalysis. In particular, the goal of sustainability with regard to energy and environmental concerns will most certainly require significant contributions from catalysis.