Somorjai Research Group


                                           Welcome to the Somorjai group webpage!

Professor Somorjai’s research interest is in the fields of surface science and catalysis. His group is studying the structure, bonding, and reactivity of solid-gas, solid-liquid, and solid-solid interfaces on the molecular scale. This knowledge is then utilized to understand macroscopic surface phenomena, the rate and product selectivity in multipath catalytic reactions. Since most catalysts are nanoparticles, metal and oxide nanoparticles are synthesized in the 1-10 nm range their catalytic activities are studied as it changes as a function of size and shape and composition. High surface area oxides supports are constructed that are mesoporous and the role of oxide-metal interfaces are studied in catalytic reactions. The molecular mechanisms of catalytic reactions are studied using instruments for nanoscale characterization of surfaces under reaction conditions. These include sum frequency generation surface vibrational spectroscopy (SFG), high-pressure scanning tunneling microscopy (high pressure STM) and high-pressure x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (high pressure XPS). Synchrotron based spectroscopy techniques (microspectroscopy, x-ray absorption techniques of NEXAFS, EXAFS) are also utilized to monitor surfaces under reaction conditions, small metal nanoparticles were found to heterogenize homogeneous solution phase catalytic reactions and studies of correlating heterogeneous and enzyme catalytic reactions are in progress. Professor Somorjai has educated a generation of leading scientists in the field. Out of more that 130 Ph. D students and 220 postdoctoral fellows, approximately 110 hold faculty positions now.

University of California, Berkeley -- Department of Chemistry

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory