A way to monitor chemical reactions as they happen during catalysis has been developed.
Killing three birds with one stone, Angelika Brückner from the Institute for Applied Chemistry Berlin-Adlershof, Germany, combined three spectroscopic techniques to look at the same catalytic reaction, at the same time, in the same reactor. The techniques are usually used individually but this is not ideal because discrepancies can arise between the samples used and the reaction conditions. By using the three techniques simultaneously identical conditions are guaranteed.
The complementary techniques are: electron paramagnetic resonance to tell how many unpaired electrons are in an atom; UV/vis spectroscopy which uses light from the ultraviolet and visible regions to see what electronic transitions a molecule is undergoing; and Raman spectroscopy which shows the energy state of a molecule. All of these properties are affected by an atom's oxidation state.
Brückner has high hopes for this new development .The ability to simultaneously analyse product composition is becoming increasingly important in catalysis research.