Research Areas

Barbara Lechner investigates the dynamic restructuring of model catalysts under reaction conditions. During her PhD at the University of Cambridge she studied the picosecond motion of molecular adsorbates on surfaces using the unique helium spin-echo method. As a postdoctoral fellow in Miquel Salmeron's group at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, she explored the dynamic interaction of different adsorbate molecules. Here in Munich, she combines these different aspects in her ERC project aiming at understanding and controlling the dynamics of catalysts. To this purpose, she places a scanning tunneling microscope with high temporal and spatial resolution directly into reactive gas mixtures and thus investigates how the structure of catalyst particles (metal clusters) and oxide supports changes under reaction conditions. By using small clusters with a precisely defined number of atoms, it is possible to investigate how the formation and decay of highly reactive particle structures occurs, can be controlled and how such structural changes influence the function of a catalyst. With this knowledge, it will be possible to find cheaper alternatives to the precious metal catalysts commonly used today.