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Prof Gary Attard  -  BSc(Hons) PhD CChem MRSC


  • The elucidation of reaction mechanisms and double layer structure at well-defined single crystal electrodes.
  • The characterisation of surface structure and composition in supported metal nanoparticles using a combined electrochemical and surface science approach.
  • Studies of the relationship between surface structure, composition and catalytic / electrocatalytic activity, particularly in relation to fuel cell research and enantioselective hydrogenation.
  • The understanding of all aspects of diastereomeric interactions between adsorbed chiral molecules and chiral metal surfaces.
  • The use of bacteria to synthesise well-defined nanoparticles.
  • The use of microwaves to study surface phenomena.
  • In situ Raman studies of mesoporous materials and catalytic reaction mechanisms.

The pharmaceutical industry manufactures drugs which are often required in enantiomerically pure forms and this industry is worth many millions of pounds per year towards UK GDP. Hence there is great interest by chemists in controlling the outcome of a reaction to favour one enantiomer over another. Although many of the mechanisms describing asymmetric reactions in three dimensions are well-understood, knowledge of the reactions taking place on a surface in two dimensions, for example on a supported metal catalyst particle, is more limited.

In order to make chiral products we believe that it is necessary to modify either chemically or structurally the 50:50 distribution of chiral kinks on a supported catalyst. To this end we use a multiplicity of surface sensitive probes and chemical procedures in order to elucidate and hence improve the catalytic properties of heterogeneous catalysts. Hence the general thrust of the research is to determine fundamental properties of a surface chemical reaction using electrochemical and surface science techniques and then to apply these findings to "real" heterogeneous catalytic systems. More recently, we have developed these ideas in order to, for the first time, use different bacteria to manufacture shaped nanoparticles. These bionanoparticles may then be used to provide more selective catalysis in hydrogenation and isomerisation reactions.

High Miller index planes as sites of asymmetry  and chirality. Adsorption of D- and L-glucose at a chiral kink site. The difference in adsorption energy in both cases allows for measurement of kinetic rates of electrooxidation and hence enantioselectivity of reaction.Figure 2 shows the growth of metal nanoparticles on different bacteriaCyclic voltammetry as a probe of different adsorption sites on supported nanoparticles.