Prof. Kurt Kolasinski, who kicked off the Catsense Summer School on Catalysis & Nanoparticles in Leuven Belgium (September 7 – 14, 2017), shares his views on the past, present and future of surface science.
“The routine attainment of ultra-high vacuum, invention of pulsed lasers, development of scanning probe techniques and advances in high-speed electronics lead to a golden age of discovery in surface science. Key facets of surface structure (geometrical and electronic) and their response to reactive environments have been elucidated. The dynamics of energy transfer between molecules and surfaces, electrons and phonons have been mapped out to allow insights into chemical bond breaking and formation in real time. Advances in surface science with its inherently multidisciplinary perspective spawned nanoscience, which shares with it a blurring of the boundaries of between scientific and engineering disciplines that is heightened by a sharpened focus on the interfaces between materials, synthesis and characterization. The challenge of nanoscience is to transform the discovery of new phenomena, techniques and materials into understanding that leads to more efficient and sustainable industrial process and products. Examples are heterogeneous catalysis (ammonia synthesis), charge transfer dynamics (electron transfer at the liquid/solid interface) and materials synthesis (formation of nanowires, porous and pillared silicon)."
"If we want to go from discovery to understanding that leads to sustainable production, we also have to ask 'Why'. Much of chemistry is motivated by asking 'How'? How do I make a primary alcohol? React a Grignard reagent with formaldehyde. Physical chemistry is motivated by asking 'Why'? The Grignard reagent and formaldehyde follow a molecular dance known as a reaction mechanism in which stronger bonds are made at the expense of weaker bonds. If you are interested in asking 'why' and not just 'how', then you need to understand physical chemistry.”
Discover the opening presentation of the Catsense Summer School on Catalysis & Nanoparticles:
Nanoscience - From curiosity driven research to practical results
Prof. Kurt Kolasinski is the author of over 90 scholarly publications as well as the widely used textbooks Surface Science: Foundations of Catalysis and Nanoscience, which appeared in its third edition in 2012, and Physical Chemistry: How Chemistry Works. Written by Prof. Kurt Kolasinski , an experienced instructor, researcher and author in physical chemistry, with a voice and perspective that is pedagogical and engaging. This textbook aims to provide students with an understanding of chemical transformations and the formation of structures at surfaces. The chapters build from simple to more advanced principles with each featuring exercises, which act not only to demonstrate concepts arising in the text but also to form an integral part of the book. The student-friendly approach and practical, contemporary examples facilitate an understanding of the physical chemical aspects of any system. For students who are deeply interested in the subject of physical chemistry, the textbook facilitates further study by connecting them to the frontiers of research.
Read on in these 2 books written by Prof. Kurt Kolasinski:
Surface Science: Foundations of Catalysis and Nanoscience, 3rd Edition
Physical Chemistry: How Chemistry Works
Read an excerpt of Chapter 1 here