Tracking Signs of Better Catalysts

A representation of a volcano graph. SUNCAT uses volcano graphs to determine where important chemical properties coincide. A substance with those properties is a good candidate for a catalyst. (Image courtesy Frank Abild-Pedersen.) SLAC researchers have taken a big step toward making useful catalysts easier to find or create—processes that have previously relied on trial and error. As explained yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, SLAC researchers at the Center for Sustainable Energy through Catalysis, or SUNCAT, are using advances in surface chemistry research to better describe the intrinsically complex process of catalysis, a type of chemical reaction that occurs at the surfaces of