SLAC Public Lecture Series
The high standard of living we enjoy today is made possible by catalysts – behind-the-scenes agents that promote chemical reactions in the vast majority of industrial processes, including production of fertilizers, gasoline and other essential products. But we have only a poor understanding of how catalysts actually work. At SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), we are using X-rays to watch catalysts in action at an atomic scale. By observing catalytic reactions in experimental chambers under conditions that mimic large-scale commercial processes, we gain fundamental insights with great practical value for designing industrial catalysts that are more specific and more powerful.