Velocity-resolved kinetics of reactions at surfaces
Catalysis is one of the most important technologies for sustainable living in the 21st century. It is involved in the production of 80% of manufactured goods, it is responsible for 40% of the nitrogen atoms found in food worldwide, and it is crucial for curbing the emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases. However, despite its importance to our society, a predictive understanding of heterogeneous catalysis remains elusive, and the development of new catalysts remains largely a trial-and-error endeavor.
State-of-the-art ion imaging techniques used in conjunction with molecular beam and ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) surface science methods allows the kinetics of reactions at surfaces to be studies with unprecedented accuracy, elucidating the site-specific kinetics of elementary reaction steps. Detailed measurements of the rates of the most important elementary reactions will allow large-scale surface-catalyzed reaction systems to be understood from first principles, opening the possibility of a bottom-up approach to the design of heterogeneous catalysts.