Edman Tsang is a Professor of Chemistry and Head of Wolfson Catalysis Centre at the University of Oxford, UK (https://www.chem.ox.ac.uk/people/edman-tsang). His main research interests are on materials and catalysis concerning energy and environment which include developments of catalytic, photocatalytic and electrocatalytic technologies for green chemistry, fine chemicals, cleaner combustion, energy storages, processes and production, ammonia and hydrogen technologies including fuel cells, etc. Particular expertise is in design and architecture of nanocatalysts and their in-situ/operando diffraction and spectroscopic characterization using large facilities, which can lead to understanding of catalytic surfaces and interfaces. He has contributed to the designs of Diamond I and II beamlines and stations as community champions (user levels). He has about 450 publications including Science, Nature and Nature sister journals and has won a number of international awards including IChemE award on iAc innovation in catalysis (2005), RSC Green Chemistry award (2012), RSC Surfaces and Interfaces award (2013) and RSC Industry-Academia Collaboration Award (2019), etc.
In this talk, I will aim to pose more questions than answers that I could provide in some illustrations of dynamic structure-catalysis relationships. As generally known, the elucidation of active sites’ structure in solid catalysts under real reaction conditions is one of the most important challenges facing the scientific community. There is an increasing amount of evidence by the in situ/operando characterization that active sites can be generated by the interaction of substrate molecules with inorganic catalysts as akin to enzyme-substrate interaction, which can result in the significant promotion of catalytic performance. In addition, surface rearrangement could occur under reaction conditions, which may cause dynamic changes in the active sites. Therefore, the real active sites under working conditions could be significantly different from those characterized under ex situ conditions. Yet, current limitations in state-of-the-art characterization techniques regarding spatial, temporal and temperature/pressure gaps are sometimes unable to provide the answers for the understanding. In-situ/operando characterization using modern designated synchrotron offers exciting possibilities. I will give you some examples how Frustrated Lewis Pair (FLP) sites can be created and monitored, which offer to catalyse a wide range of chemical reactions. I hope this talk could stimulate new science/new instrumentation in catalysis and other disciplines in future.