Advanced materials with specific design and function are central in the quest for energy independence. The fruition of national goals in many energy sectors (solar, fossil, renewables) depends critically on our ability to selectively accomplish key reactions with good yield, selectivity, and efficiency.
A large fraction of these inter-conversions occur at solid/liquid boundaries. By nature, these sites are complex, heterogeneous, and difficult to study.
As one of the premier tools in it’s spectroscopic arsenal, the laboratory uses solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to understand the structure and dynamics of molecules in complex environments to help guide the design of even better catalysts. The strength of this technique lies in the ability to ‘see’ unique reactants and processes at the sub-nanometer scale, using specific isotopic enrichment methods to pinpoint local transformations, even in amorphous structures by ‘lighting up’ a spherical volume element at the point of reaction that typically extends over two bond lengths. This selectivity is ideally suited to reveal functional group interactions and chemistry.
With the ability to understand the chemistry that occurs in these complex systems, the imagination of chemists to modify and optimize unique and desirable chemistry is used to its fullest advantage to make important breakthroughs in our energy picture.
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