A flight of fancy

In situ infrared and X-ray high spatial-resolution microspectroscopy have been used for the first time to track multistep organic transformations in a flow microreactor in which gold nanoclusters act as the catalyst, according to US researchers. A team of scientists with the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Berkeley have found a way to get a closer look inside a microreactor for the first time and can observe a catalytic reaction from start to finish at high resolution. The results have the potential for improving our understanding of the chemistry underpinning catalytic reactions but they also open up new opportunities for the optimization of such reactions.