Professor Mike Bowker

Professor Mike Bowker

Professor of Surface Science and Deputy Director of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute

School of Chemistry

+44 (0)29 2087 0120
+44 (0)29 2087 4030
Media commentator

Prof. Bowker leads the Heterogeneous Catalysis and Surface Science group in Cardiff, consisting of nine academic members of staff and 70 researchers. He founded the Wolfson Nanoscience Laboratory at Cardiff in 2006 and is Deputy Director of the recently established Cardiff Catalysis Institute. His research has focused on surface structure/reactivity and catalysis, ranging from theoretical studies of the effect of sintering on product yields, to selective oxidation catalysis on oxide nanomaterials, to studies of adsorption on well-defined surfaces. He has used STM for 20 years to study various aspects of surface structure and reactivity, pioneering the use of high temperature, atomic resolution STM in this field. The group continues to focus on aspects of surface science and catalysis, now extending to include nanofabrication, nanoengineering and bio-surface interactions.


Research Group: Cardiff Catalysis Institute

PhD in Surface Science, University of Liverpool, 1977, supervisor Prof David King

Research Fellow, Dept. Chem. Eng., Stanford University, California, with Prof R.J. Madix 1977-9, working on catalytic reactions on well-defined surfaces.

Senior Research Scientist, ICI Corporate Laboratory, Runcorn, England 1979-87. Working on various aspects of industrial catalysis, using traditional catalytic methods and surface science. Reactions included ethylene epoxidation, ammonia synthesis, methanol synthesis, shift reaction and others.

Founding Assistant Director, Leverhulme Centre for Innovative Catalysis,Dept. Chemistry, University of Liverpool. 1987-93. Developing this centre from foundation. Covering a range of catalytic processes and surface science.

Principal Scientist, IRC in Surface Science, 1988-95. Again, a founding member of this centre, leading a team devoted to the study of adsorption, reactions and structure of well-defined surfaces.

Professor and Head of Physical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Reading, 1993-2003. Responsible for organising Physical Chemistry teaching, researching aspects of surface science and catalysis and developing physical chemistry research in the department.

Professor of Surface Chemistry, School of Chemistry, Cardiff University, 2003. Head of Heterogeneous Catalysis and Surfaces Group. Development of surface science of nano particles. Focus on Slective oxidation catalysis and photocatalysis. Founder of the Wolfson Nanoscience Laboratory, 2006. Appointed Deputy Director, Cardiff Catalysis Institute, 2009

  • Catalysis, particularly selective oxidation and photocatalysis, the latter mainly for hydrogen production.
  • Fundamental research into the preparation and characteristics of catalysts used for environmental protection, especially for the removal of pollutants from cars
  • Nanofabrication and nanoengineering
  • Nanofabrication of model catalysts, consisting of nanoparticles anchored to oxide surfaces, and imaging them with scanning tunnelling microscopy
  • Investigation of the atomic-scale structure and reactivity of crystalline surfaces

The work of my group is aimed at gaining an understanding aspects of heterogeneous catalysis. This especially involves aspects of the structure and reactivity of anchored nanoparticles, that is, small metal particles (e.g. Au, Pd, Pt) bound to inorganic surfaces. This is of great importance in relation to the understanding of nanostructures generally, but it is also of practical relevance - for example, we work on iron molybdate catalysts for the selective oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde, and on the production of new fuels (especially hydrogen) using photocatalysis.

We use a wide range of experimental methods and have recently made significant new investments in equipment. We have the ability to image surfaces and nanoparticles at the atomic scale using scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and examples of this type of work are shown below. Members of the group regularly give presentations at scientific meetings in the UK and abroad.