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Doctoral thesis, 2019

Unveiling catalytic species in suspension/solution-based reactions by in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy

Yuan, Ning


The palladium (Pd) and ruthenium (Ru) species in several attractive catalysts have been probed using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). The study of catalyst evolution in suspension- and solution-based reactions was the primary aim. It was achieved by performing in situ XAS experiments on Pd and Ru over the course of the reactions. A custom-made reactor was employed which allowed the catalysts to be mixed with other reaction components under desired conditions. The first system investigated was the Heck coupling reaction catalyzed by Pd(II) complexes embedded on metal-organic frameworks. Mononuclear Pd complexes are the active species at the first stage of the measurement which then gradually transform into Pd nanoclusters. At a later stage of the measurement, chloride ligands start to bind to surface atoms of the Pd nanoclusters, leading to a deactivation of the catalyst. Pd(II) carbene complexes catalyzing undirected C–H acetoxylation of benzene in the presence of an oxidant were then explored. A gradual ligand substitution occurs, and the mean oxidation state of Pd increases at the same time. At a later stage, Pd nanoclusters form, while the mean oxidation state of Pd returns to the start value. Deactivation of a heterogeneous Pd(II) catalyst during cycloisomerization of acetylenic acids was also investigated using in situ XAS. The choice of substrates showed to significantly influence the nature of Pd species, and the formation of Pd(0) aggregates causes the deactivation. Moreover, strategies of reactivating the catalyst and prevention of the deactivation were developed and examined. In the end, the activation process of a Ru catalyst was studied and the structure of the intermediate was determined by in situ XAS. It was demonstrated that an electron-donating substituent on the cyclopentadiene ligand exhibits a promoting effect on the activation, while an electron-withdrawing substituent inhibits the activation.


palladium and ruthenium species; catalysts; suspension and solution; in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy; activation; deactivation

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2019, number: 2019:33
ISBN: 978-91-7760-384-9, eISBN: 978-91-7760-385-6
Publisher: Department of Molecular Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Inorganic Chemistry
    Analytical Chemistry

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