The research group of MagnetoCat SL (Alicante, Spain) has published fundamental theoretical work on magnetism in heterogeneous catalysis in ACS catalysis. The group, consisting of Ph.D. student Miss Chiara Biz, Dr. Mauro Fianchini and Dr. Jose Gracia, presented a complex and comprehensive theoretical treatment linking electron spin, magnetism and heterogeneous catalysis. This treatment concerns the behavior of correlated electrons in solids and the quantum mechanical “tricks” they use to avoid each other while balancing repulsions and attractions.
It is known that relativity and quantum mechanics impose a quantized magnetic moment on an electron called spin. When several of these spins cooperate together in complex materials, several combinations and domains are eventually formed. The macroscopic resultant of these domains is trivially called magnetism.
Magnetism affects the catalytic properties of materials, according to the MagnetoCat group.
However, the imprint of magnetism in heterogeneous catalysis has been somewhat ignored by chemists for a very long time, so why bother with it now?
The answer is simple: because magnetism can lead to greener and more sustainable chemistry in the years to come. The great improvement brought about by magnetism over catalysis paved the way for the improvement of processes for the production of hydrogen and the separation of water. Additionally, the abundant magnetic metals, such as iron, cobalt, and nickel, can be an excellent substitute for heavier, rarer, and more expensive metals (such as platinum or gold) in catalytic structures. Environment and economy, hand in hand.
MagnetoCat’s group has already made computational predictions in 2020 about the higher activity of platinum-metal alloys (where the metal is iron, cobalt and nickel) compared to pure platinum in hydrogen fuel cells and they are absolutely sure that the experiments will soon confirm the predictions and pave the way for industrial implementation. The group is currently working on the computer-aided catalytic design of magnetic catalysts within the framework of the SPINCAT project.
Catalyst surface analyzed at atomic resolution
Chiara Biz et al, Strongly Correlated Electrons in Catalysis: Focus on Quantum Exchange, ACS catalysis (2021). DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.1c03135
Provided by MagnetoCat SL
Quote: Magnetism at the root of enhanced ‘green’ catalysis (January 19, 2022) retrieved January 19, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-01-magnetisme-root-green-catalysis.html
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