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Journal Article

Carbon in catalysis


Schlögl,  Robert
Inorganic Chemistry, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Schlögl, R. (2013). Carbon in catalysis. Advances in Catalysis, 56, 103-185. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-420173-6.00002-4.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0014-C947-C
This review is concerned with nanoscale carbon as a catalyst. Elemental carbon has become available in many nanostructured forms representing combinations of the hybridizations found in fundamental carbon allotropes, and the materials can be enriched by a large number of surface functional groups, some generated by nanostructuring. Consequently, many examples of catalytic applications of carbon are documented, but the development of the field has been hampered by the lack of a conceptual approach linking structure and function and by the lack of understanding of synthesis of the materials. This chapter provides a foundation for an advanced comprehension of the catalytic reactivity of carbon and addresses key aspects of characterization and synthesis. The usefulness of X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, and electron microscopy for the characterization of nanoscale carbons is briefly contrasted with the limitations of these methods. The various structural elements—among them carbon hybridization, local defects, and topology—that contribute to the electronic structure are discussed in detail. The difficulties of analyzing the resulting complex electron spectra are highlighted. In its core part, this chapter uses the derived knowledge of the electronic structure to arrive at concepts illustrating carbon’s potential in catalysis. A general synthesis strategy for the controlled functionalization of carbons is laid out. The ambivalent role of carbon deposits on catalyst surfaces as poisons or an active phase is demonstrated. One-third of the chapter is devoted to two case studies that illustrate the ideas; the catalytic transformations are the oxidative dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene and of alkanes.