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University of Virginia
Department of Chemistry
409 McCormick Road
P.O. Box 400319
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4319
Phone: (434)924-3639/3654
Fax: (434)924-3966

email : Prof. Ian Harrison

 

   

 

 

 

Research Overview
Catalysis is an essential technology supporting our way of life and contributes towards roughly 1/3 of the material GDP of the US economy. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, the catalytic transformation of nitrogen on nanoscale, potassium promoted, iron catalysts to ammonia, and ultimately fertilizer, has profoundly changed the human condition and currently supports an additional 2.4 billion people beyond what the Earth could otherwise sustain. In the 21st Century, the catalytic challenge will be to facilitate a rapid transition from a petroleum-based energy and chemical economy to a more generalized one based on natural gas, hydrogen, coal, biomass, and solar energy (photochemistry). Energy efficient chemical transformations, environmental protection, and green chemistry will continue to rely heavily on catalysis. Most industrially viable catalysis takes place on the surfaces of transition metal nanocrystallites dispersed on oxide supports. Our research focuses on understanding gas-surface reactions on simplified scientific model surfaces, namely, on single crystal surfaces. Important recent progress has been the development of quantitative models for (i) the C-H bond activation of CH4 on Ni surfaces that is at the heart of natural gas reforming on Ni nanocatalysts that yields the industrial supply of H2, and (ii) the chemical vapor deposition of Si on Si (100) by SiH4 that is central to Si homoepitaxy in microelectronics manufacturing. Current activities focus on exploring the thermal and photochemical reaction dynamics of catalytically important and energy-related small molecules, such as H2, CO2, CH4, alkanes, and alcohols on transition metal surfaces. Our research typically employs ultrahigh vacuum surface analytical techniques (e.g., TPD, AES, XPS, RAIRS, STM, LEED) as well as some more specialized laser techniques (SFG, TOF) and/or microcanonical unimolecular rate theory. Our goal is to characterize the transition states of important catalytic reactions and to develop an improved understanding of how to design efficient & selective thermal and photochemically driven catalysts.
 
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the American Chemical Society's Petroleum Research Foundation.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF, DOE, or ACS PRF.
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