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Nat Mater. 2004 Nov;3(11):810-5. Epub 2004 Oct 17.

Alloy catalysts designed from first principles.

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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


The rational design of pure and alloy metal catalysts from fundamental principles has the potential to yield catalysts of greatly improved activity and selectivity. A promising area of research concerns the role that near-surface alloys (NSAs) can play in endowing surfaces with novel catalytic properties. NSAs are defined as alloys wherein a solute metal is present near the surface of a host metal in concentrations different from the bulk; here we use density functional theory calculations to introduce a new class of these alloys that can yield superior catalytic behaviour for hydrogen-related reactions. Some of these NSAs bind atomic hydrogen (H) as weakly as the noble metals (Cu, Au) while, at the same time, dissociating H(2) much more easily. This unique set of properties may permit these alloys to serve as low-temperature, highly selective catalysts for pharmaceuticals production and as robust fuel-cell anodes.

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