Single atoms as a catalyst: Surprising effects ensue

Catalysts are getting smaller – ‘single-atom’ catalysts are the logical end point of this downsizing. However, individual atoms can no longer be described using the rules developed from larger pieces of metal, so the rules used to predict which metals will be good catalysts must be revamped – this has now been achieved. As it turns out, single atom catalysts based on much cheaper materials might be even more effective.

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