A Simple Method to Locate the Optimal Adsorption Energy for the Best Catalysts Directly

Jian-Fu Chen, Yu Mao, Hai Feng Wang*, P. Hu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In silico design of catalysts has made significant progress in recent decades. Arguably the best one among the used methods is to plot the activity against the adsorption energy of the key intermediate (E ad ), usually leading to a volcano-shaped trend, on the peak of which the optimal adsorption energy (E ad opt ) can be identified for locating the best catalyst. However, E ad opt has not been clearly understood, and its application for catalyst screening mainly relies on massive quantum-chemical calculations. Here, we derive a simple yet efficient method to estimate E ad opt in heterogeneous catalysis based on an elegant kinetic formulism expressed by the notation of chemical potentials and a generalized two-step model. With this method, (i) E ad opt can be estimated without quantum-chemical calculations, and one can even calculate it by hand from gas-phase thermodynamic data; (ii) some important trends for catalyst design and optimal reaction conditions can be readily derived; and (iii) many previous findings in reaction kinetics can be easily integrated in our formulism with clearer physical pictures. This work could pave a simple way for efficient design of heterogeneous catalysts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2633-2638
Number of pages6
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 08 Feb 2019


  • chemical potential
  • heterogeneous catalyst
  • optimal adsorption energy
  • rational design
  • reaction kinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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