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Dr M Sankar

Dr M Sankar

Lecturer in Physical Chemistry

School of Chemistry

+44 (0)29 2087 5748
+44 (0)29 2087 4030



Research Groups: Cardiff Catalysis Institute


B. Sc. in Chemistry, St. Xavier's College, Tirunelveli, India (1998), M.Sc. in Chemistry, The American College, Madurai, India (2001), PhD in Heterogeneous Catalysis, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India (2007, Dr. P. Manikandan), Postdoctoral Research Associate, Cardiff University, UK (2007-2011, Prof Graham J. Hutchings FRS), Marie-Curie Intra-European Research Fellow, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (2011-2013, Prof. B. M. Weckhuysen), Chancellor'' s Research Fellow (2014 -), Cardiff Catalysis Institute, Cardiff University.

Honours and awards

  1. Junior & Senior Research Fellowship (2002) by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India for PhD Research.
  2. Lectureship (2001) by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India.
  3. Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship for Career Development (2011) by the Research Executive Agency, FP-7.
  4. Honorary Research Associate (2011-2014), Cardiff University, UK.
  5. Chancellor's Research Fellowship (2014) by the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, Cardiff University, UK.

















CHT401 Advanced Heterogeneous Catalysis

CH0001 Fundamental Aspects of Chemistry

Details of modules can be found in course finder.

  • Developing strategies for the synthesis of supported monometallic and bimetallic nanoparticles based catalysts
  • Catalyst development for CO2 utilization - synthesis of cyclic, dimethyl and poly carbonates.
  • Catalyst development for renewable feedstock valorisation (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin)
  • Mechanistic investigation of catalytic processes using kinetic and in-situ spectroscopic methods.

Catalyst Synthesis Strategies

In this theme, we are interested in developing simple and effective strategies for the synthesis of supported monometallic and bimetallic nanoparticles based catalysts for various organic transformations including selective oxidation, selective hydrogenation/hydrogenolysis and hydrogen auto transfer reactions. The challenge is to prepare these catalysts with precise control over the size, composition and nanostructure / shape by tuning the synthesis parameters. We design new methodologies by combining aspects of material science, nanotechnology and catalyst characterisation. In another part of this theme, we aim to design heterogeneous catalysts that are active, stable and selective for the above-mentioned organic transformations.


  1. Paalanen, et al.,   Catalysis Science & Technology, 3 (2013) 2869.
  2. Sankar et al., ACS Nano 6 (2012) 6600.
  3. Sankar et al., Chemistry: A European Journal. 17 (2011) 6524.

Renewable Feedstock

In this theme, we aim to develop catalytic systems (supported metal, mixed metal oxides, polyoxometalates, zeolites, inorganic-organic hybrid) for the valorisation of renewable materials such as CO2, lignocellulosic biomass components (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin). For the CO2 valorisation reactions, we aim to develop heterogeneous catalysts for the (a) synthesis of cyclic carbonates from epoxides and CO2, (b) transesterification of cyclic carbonates to prepare dimethyl carbonate and glycols and (c) synthesis of polycarbonates from epoxides and CO2.


  1. US Patent: 6,924,379, Indian Patent (Granted).
  2. Sankar et al., Applied Catalysis A: General 276 (2004) 217.
  3. Sankar et al., Applied Catalysis A: General 312 (2006) 108.
  4. Sankar et al., ChemSusChem 3 (2010) 575.

Mechanistic Investigation

In this theme, we use in-situ spectroscopic, kinetic methodologies to understand the mechanism of catalytic reactions (oxidation, hydrogenation and hydrogen auto transfer reactions). We use this information in the catalyst development program to design more active and selective catalysts. For example, we used EPR spectroscopic method to understand the reason behind the formation of nearly 99% of benzaldehyde during the catalytic selective aerobic oxidation of benzyl alcohol in spite of the fact that benzaldehyde readily oxidises to benzoic acid at room temperature in air. We found that traces of benzyl alcohol (substrate) inhibit the oxidation of benzaldehyde by selectively quenching the radicals (Figure below).


  1. Sankar et al., Nature Communications, 5 (2014), 3332.
  2. Nowicka et al., Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 15 (2013) 12147.
  3. Meenakshisundaram et al., Faraday Discussions, 145 (2010) 341.

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