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Variable Temperature and Pressure Operando MAS NMR for Catalysis Science and Related Materials

Cite this: Acc. Chem. Res. 2020, 53, 3, 611–619
Publication Date (Web):January 13, 2020
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.accounts.9b00557
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract

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    The characterization of catalytic materials under working conditions is of paramount importance for a realistic depiction and comprehensive understanding of the system. Under such relevant environments, catalysts often exhibit properties or reactivity not observed under standard spectroscopic conditions. Fulfilling such harsh environments as high temperature and pressure is a particular challenge for solid-state NMR where samples spin several thousand times a second within a strong magnetic field. To address concerns about the disparities between spectroscopic environments and operando conditions, novel MAS NMR technology has been developed that enables the probing of catalytic systems over a wide range of pressures, temperatures, and chemical environments. In this Account, new efforts to overcome the technical challenges in the development of operando and in situ MAS NMR will be briefly outlined. Emphasis will be placed on exploring the unique chemical regimes that take advantage of the new developments. With the progress achieved, it is possible to interrogate both structure and dynamics of the environments surrounding various nuclear constituents (1H, 13C, 23Na, 27Al, etc.), as well as assess time-resolved interactions and transformations.

    Operando and in situ NMR enables the direct observation of chemical components and their interactions with active sites (such as Brønsted acid sites on zeolites) to reveal the nature of the active center under catalytic conditions. Further, mixtures of such constituents can also be assessed to reveal the transformation of the active site when side products, such as water, are generated. These interactions are observed across a range of temperatures (−10 to 230 °C) and pressures (vacuum to 100 bar) for both vapor and condensed phase analysis. When coupled with 2D NMR, computational modeling, or both, specific binding modes are identified where the adsorbed state provides distinct signatures. In addition to vapor phase chemical environments, gaseous environments can be introduced and controlled over a wide range of pressures to support catalytic studies that require H2, CO, CO2, etc. Mixtures of three phases may also be employed. Such reactions can be monitored in situ to reveal the transformation of the substrates, active sites, intermediates, and products over the course of the study. Further, coupling of operando NMR with isotopic labeling schemes reveals specific mechanistic insights otherwise unavailable. Examples of these strategies will be outlined to reveal important fundamental insights on working catalyst systems possible only under operando conditions. Extension of operando MAS NMR to study the solid–electrolyte interface and solvation structures associated with energy storage systems and biomedical systems will also be presented to highlight the versatility of this powerful technique.

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