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Catalyst Cartography: 3D Super-Resolution Mapping of Catalytic Activity

Thanks to a groundbreaking new method, scientists have created the first 3D super-resolution maps of catalytic activity on an individual catalytic nanoparticle while reactions are occurring.  Catalysts are used in manufacturing everything from stain remover to rocket fuel; they make production more efficient by facilitating chemical reactions.  Each catalyst being studied is only about 200 nanometers in diameter (it would take a chain of approximately 500 nanocatalysts to equal the thickness of a single sheet of paper). Even at the nanoscale, reactions can vary greatly in distribution and intensity on the surface.  To precisely map each location in situ, researchers first initiate a reaction that creates fluorescent product molecules.  When excited by a laser, these molecules flash.  The flashes are recorded using a camera capable of detecting single particles of light and mapped much like using pushpins to mark locations on a map.  Taking advantage of the uniform, spherical shape of the nanocatalysts, the researchers then apply geometry to transpose the dots from a flat map onto a 3D globe.  The fluorescence intensity further indicates in which hemisphere a reaction happened, as those nearer the light source have a stronger signal.  Mapping reactions in super-resolution 3D is vital to understand what is going on at specific sites on the surface of the catalyst and fine tune particle distributions to create better catalysts. 

Highlight Date: 
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Article Title: 

Geometry-Assisted Three-Dimensional Superlocalization Imaging of Single-Molecule Catalysis on Modular Multilayer Nanocatalysts

R. Han, J-W. Ha, C. Xiao, Y. Pei, Z. Qi, B. Dong, N. L. Bormann, W. Huang, and N. Fang
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Journal Name: 
Angewandte Chemie
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