A Fundamental Study of Selective Catalysis in Heterogeneous Materials

Nicholas Parra-Vazquez : Chemical Engineering

Mentor: Professor Alexander Katz, Chemical Engineering

A Chemical Engineering & Material Science double major, Nicholas plans to investigate the significance of catalyst structure on a system exhibiting shape-selectivity. In the past, it has proven difficult to synthetically manipulate one catalyst feature without simultaneously altering other features. As a result, the relative importance of various structural features on catalyst selectivity remains generally unknown. By using a novel synthetic method called molecular imprinting, Nicholas hopes to achieve independent manipulation of the catalyst's structural features, thereby allowing elucidation of the mechanism of catalyst selectivity. Mechanistic information can in turn be used to optimize catalyst design, resulting in significant economic and environmental benefits in the industrial sector.