Ministry of Science and Higher Education Grant Ideas Plus II no. IdPII 2015000164

Quantum Control of Nickel Catalysed Hydrogenations: the Director of Catalysis Movies at XFELs

Project leader: dr hab. Jacinto Sa

X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) are in their infancy but it is clear that their impact on the field of time-resolved X-ray science will be profound and far-reaching. In the case of heterogeneous catalysis, the advent of XFELs brought closer the goal of making a catalytic transformation movie, because they have sufficient time resolution and chemical speciation to follow reactions in real time, i.e. bridging the time gap. There are, however, issues that need to be solved, namely discriminating triggering and sample stability. We propose to develop a selective and universal trigger; applicable to all gas phase heterogeneous catalysis reactions, enabling the effective and successful use of XFELs short pulses, and ultimately unravel catalysis fundamental steps. The strategy relies on the use of shaped femto-second laser pulses (quantum control) to direct surface potentials, and consequently catalytic reactions, so called directed reactivity. This is attainable since the pulse duration is related to molecular bond vibration time scales. In order to achieve the goal, we will develop a flexible, compact, and transportable quantum control setup. This novel technique will be a powerful tool to understand surface reactivity at a level of bond breaking and forming, thus enabling the understanding of the heterogeneous catalysis commanding steps, the discrimination between consecutive and parallel reactions, the identification of active sites, and ultimately direct a movie depicting a catalytic reaction.