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Tracking catalytic reactions in microreactors
Date:2/21/2014

A pathway to more effective and efficient synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs and other flow reactor chemical products has been opened by a study in which for the first time the catalytic reactivity inside a microreactor was mapped in high resolution from start-to-finish. The results not only provided a better understanding of the chemistry behind the catalytic reactions, they also revealed opportunities for optimization, which resulted in better catalytic performances. The study was conducted by a team of scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley.

Working at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS), the team, which was led by chemists Dean Toste and Gabor Somorjai, both of whom hold joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, used tightly focused beams of infrared and x-ray light to track the evolution of a catalytic reaction with a spatial resolution of 15 microns.

"The formation of different chemical products during the reactions was analyzed using in situ infrared micro-spectroscopy, while the state of the catalyst along the flow reactor was determined using in situ x-ray absorption microspectroscopy," says Toste, a faculty scientist with Berkeley Lab's Chemical Sciences Division. "Our results show that using infrared microspectroscopy to monitor the evolution of reactants into a desired product could be an invaluable tool for optimizing pharmaceutical-related synthetic processes that take place in flow reactors."

Toste and Somorjai are the corresponding authors of a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) titled "In-situ IR and X-ray high spatial-resolution microspectroscopy measurements of multistep organic transformation in flow microreactor catalyzed by Au nanoclusters." Elad Gross, a post-doctoral scholar with the corresponding authors, is the lead author. Other co-a
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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