Symposium EN06—Development in Catalytic Materials for Sustainable Energy—Bridging the Homogeneous/Heterogeneous Divide
Addressing the challenge of generating useful forms of energy from abundant but practically unfeasible reagents (i.e. H2O, CO2, N2, light) requires the precise control of many thermodynamically and kinetically difficult reactions. Making these transformations effective and efficient demands the development of selective, active, durable and low-cost catalysts to overcome sluggish kinetics, steer the myriad possible reaction pathways, and lead to desirable products in high yields. Catalysts that do enable these transformations can be generally categorized as homogeneous or heterogeneous, with each set possessing its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Homogeneous catalysts, mostly molecules, possess well-defined structures on the atomic level that enable rational design and mechanism-based optimization but often suffer from issues of low stability. Heterogeneous catalysts, mostly inorganic solids, are compatible with most energy storage and conversion devices and are easy to handle, but possess diverse and often dynamic active sites that are difficult to characterize to atomic accuracy. While development in these two areas has typically been disconnected from each other, there has recently been notable progress in the development of catalytic materials crossing the homogeneous-heterogeneous boundary. Specifically, research on heterogeneous catalysis has been seeking for molecular-level understanding of structure-reactivity correlations, with the help of newly-developed advanced characterization techniques and computational simulations. Also, research on homogeneous catalysis has evolved to constructing practical catalysts by supporting or anchoring molecules on surfaces. And to obtain the best features of both classes, research toward new catalytic materials which integrate the features of traditional molecular catalysts with heterogeneous materials catalysts (e.g. heterogenized molecular catalysts, single atom catalysts) have been emerging. This symposium is aimed at capturing this progress at the interface of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis and connecting researchers in multiple disciplines to discuss the overarching theme of catalytic materials research for energy innovations.