Sylvia T. Ceyer

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Election Year: 1997
Primary Section: 14, Chemistry
Secondary Section: 33, Applied Physical Sciences
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

The major emphasis of my research in physical chemistry is to understand the physical bases for the differences between surface chemistry observed under the low-pressure, ultrahigh vacuum conditions of a laboratory experiment and that observed in the high-pressure, practical environment of heterogeneous catalysis or plasma etching. Once understood, the chemistry that occurs readily under high-pressure conditions can be made to occur under the low-pressure conditions of a molecular beam-surface scattering and electron spectroscopy experiment where the reaction mechanism and dynamics can be probed on the molecular level. Together with my students, our efforts have resulted in the observation of several new mechanisms for surface reactions, such as chemistry and desorption with a hammer, hydrogenation of unsaturated hydrocarbons by bulk hydrogen, and atom abstraction by a surface as well as the catalytic synthesis of hydrocarbons, such as benzene from methane, never previously possible under low-pressure laboratory conditions.

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