Numerous studies have been carried out in the field of homogeneous catalysis for fine chemical synthesis, due to the exact control of catalyst structures leading to high activity and selectivity of desired reactions. Some of the homogeneous catalysts have been rationally designed on the basis of enzymatic structures, because enzymes or biological catalysts exhibit enormous catalytic properties on certain chemical reactions with high activation energies under mild physiological conditions. On the other hand, heterogeneous catalysts have many advantages for industrial processes, such as easy and complete separation from the reaction mixture, excellent recyclability, and high activity comparable to those of homogeneous counterparts. Although these heterogeneous catalysts are successfully applied to the wide ranges of chemical reactions, reaction selectivity, in particular regio- and stereospecificity, is the field that has been unexplored thus far.
Then, as homogeneous catalysts mimic the enzymatic systems to improve their catalytic performances, why don’t we mimic the identical system for the design of heterogeneous catalysts? We know that the dimensions and mechanisms of heterogeneous systems are highly distinct, but at least, we may get fundamental ideas from the structure and dynamics of enzymes proceeding the reactions though efficient pathways.
In this presentation, we will present the design principle of heterogeneous systems which are mainly inspired from homogeneous and enzymatic catalysts. When metal nanoparticles and their related structures are utilized as model catalysts, their intrinsic structural regularity enables the gaps between different phases to be closer, and the main features of other catalysts can be applied to the heterogeneous systems. This approach would enhance various catalytic performances, including thermal stability, redox properties, and reaction selectivity, and help to expand the applicable ranges of heterogeneous systems.