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Volume 80, Issue 12, December 2009
80(2009); http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3270191View Description Hide Description
A novel microfabricated chemical reactor for highly sensitive measurements of catalytic activity and surface kinetics is presented. The reactor is fabricated in a silicon chip and is intended for gas-phase reactions at pressures ranging from 0.1 to 5.0 bar. A high sensitivity is obtained by directing the entire gas flow through the catalyst bed to a mass spectrometer, thus ensuring that nearly all reaction products are present in the analyzed gas flow. Although the device can be employed for testing a wide range of catalysts, the primary aim of the design is to allow characterization of model catalysts which can only be obtained in small quantities. Such measurements are of significant fundamental interest but are challenging because of the low surface areas involved. The relationship between the reaction zone gas flow and the pressure in the reaction zone is investigated experimentally. A corresponding theoretical model is presented, and the gas flow through an on-chip flow-limiting capillary is predicted to be in the intermediate regime. The experimental data for the gas flow are found to be in good agreement with the theoretical model. At typical experimental conditions, the total gas flow through the reaction zone is around , corresponding to a gas residence time in the reaction zone of about 11 s. To demonstrate the operation of the microreactor, CO oxidation on low-area platinumthin film circles is employed as a test reaction. Using temperature ramping, it is found that platinum catalysts with areas as small as are conveniently characterized with the device.