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TU Berlin: Cluster of Excellence "Unifying Concepts in Catalysis"


This project's vision is to unify concepts in catalysis by bridging the gaps between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, between elementary gas-phase reactions and complex processes in highly organised biological systems, as well as between fundamental and applied catalysis research.

Catalysis implies multiple processes involving catalytic systems of different structural and functional complexity. Large scale conversion of small molecules occurs at solid interfaces (heterogeneous catalysis), whereas stepwise synthesis of fine chemicals proceeds in solution (homogeneous catalysis). Metabolic processes in organisms are catalysed by complex molecular machines which are capable of operating highly selective under ambient temperature and pressure, adapted to specific environmental conditions. The catalytic diversity accounts for the division of this research area into various fields of science and engineering.


In order to profit from the progress made in each field, a collaborative network needs to be established which combines, integrates, verifies and exploits the various views of heterogeneous, homogeneous and biological catalysis, eventually giving rise to a unifying concept in catalysis. This ambitious goal can only be achieved by a concerted effort of scientists and engineers who address the problem of catalysis from different viewpoints and from various disciplinary backgrounds.


The initiative focuses on analysing catalytic mechanisms, designing novel catalytic materials and strategies, and developing new catalytic processes on laboratory and miniplant scales. The scientists want to integrate the expertise in chemistry, biology, physics, and engineering pooled in the Berlin area into an innovative research programme. The aim is to create a centre of catalytic research and generate new synergisms in this central field of science and technology.


Further information