Part of the series Nanoscience and Technology pp 245-268

Catalysis by Nanoparticles

  • Claude R. HenryAffiliated withCRMCN-CNRS, Campus de Luminy

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What is the meaning of nanocatalysis? Is it not a pleonasm? Indeed, industrial catalysis generally takes place at the nanoscale (or sub-nanoscale): most of the catalysts are made of metal particles of a few nanometers in size and in fine all the elementary reaction steps occur at the atomic (or molecular) scale. Thus, catalysis seems to be intrinsically a nanoscale phenomenon. The word nanocatalysis, in fact, does not apply to the catalytic phenomenon itself but to the intrinsic properties of the catalysts, which may change in the nanoscale. As we will see, some properties of nanometer sized, supported metal particles directly affect their catalytic activities and these properties are, in size range of up to a couple of hundred atoms, not scalable from bulk properties.