Catalytic Model Systems and Surface Reactivity Studied at the Atomic Scale by High-resolution, Fast-scanning STM

Lecture by Flemming Besenbacher

Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center
University of Aarhus

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Room 1610 Engineering Hall
Refreshments at 3:45 p.m.
Lecture at 4:00 p.m.

For decades, single-crystal surfaces have been studied under ultrahigh vacuum conditions as model systems for elementary surface processes underlying phenomena such as heterogeneous catalysis, epitaxial growth, and corrosion. This "surface science approach" has contributed substantially to our understanding of the processes involved in catalysis, and has in some cases led to the design of improved catalysts. Recently, much attention has been paid to the so-called gaps between surface science and industrial catalysis: the pressure gap which arises because of the pressure difference between UHV base pressures and atmospheric pressure; and the structural gap relating to the difference in reactivity on single-crystal surfaces, as opposed to nanoclusters.

In this talk I will show how one can use the unique capabilities of Scanning Tunneling Microscopy to reveal fundamental processes in relation to catalysis. STM has proven to be a fascinating and powerful technique for revealing the atomic-scale realm of matter. The unique Aarhus STM allows us to record time-resolved, high-resolution STM images, visualized in the form of STM movies (see I will show how we can obtain quantitative information on and unique insight into diffusion and transport phenomena associated with surface processes and nanostructures, and how atomic-scale studies may lead to design of improved catalysts.

Flemming Besenbacher
Flemming Besenbacher is a full professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Aarhus, where he received his D.Sc. His research activities include the development and use of scanning tunneling microscopy and other surface sensitive techniques to study clean and adsorbate-covered surfaces, as well as synthesis and characterization of nanostructures on surfaces. He is director and founder of the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center and head of the graduate school, a member of the Boards of Directors of the Carlsberg Foundation and Carlsberg Breweries A/S. He was vice-director of the Center for Atomic-scale Materials Physics (1993-2003) sponsored by the Danish National Research Foundation. His many awards include the NKT Prize (1995) from the Danish Physical Society for outstanding research in the area of scanning probe microscopy, the Danish Velux Award for outstanding achievements in natural and technical science, especially in the area of nanoscience, and the Grundfos Award (2006). In 2007, he was knighted by the Queen of Denmark and awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog. Also in 2007 he was awarded honorary professorships at four Chinese Universities: Henan, Tianjin, Jilin, and Huazhong Normal. He is a member of the Royal Danish Academy, the Max-Planck Institute for Solid State Research, and other prestigious Danish and international academies and societies. His more than 300 papers in international journals, including several in high impact journals such as Nature, Science, Physical Review Letters, and Angewandte Chemie, are highly cited.