The Michel Boudart Award recognizes and encourages individual contributions to the elucidation of the mechanism and active sites involved in catalytic phenomena and to the development of new methods or concepts that advance the understanding and the practice of heterogeneous catalysis. It recognizes individuals who bring together the rigor and the international impact that exemplified the accomplishments and the career of Professor Michel Boudart.
Professor Gates is being recognized for his pioneering contributions to the field of supported molecular catalysis. His work can be credited directly with stimulating the area of single site supported metal catalysis and has led to accessible and well defined families of precise catalytic structures (such as dimers and 4 atom clusters) which are intermediate between single atom metal complexes and metal particles. These advances, for which he and his group are widely known to be world leading, arise from the integrated combination of highly targeted organometallic synthesis, detailed spectroscopic characterization and rigorous performance evaluation underpinned by computational modelling. By exerting control over the electronic properties and dispersion of systems through modification of ligand environment, molecularity and support effects, Professor Gates and his group have been able to tailor the catalytic properties of materials in a controlled manner. Through the application of IR and x-ray absorption spectroscopy to working systems, the crucial influence of the support upon the identities of intermediates and metal-support interactions has been clearly elucidated for reactions such as olefin hydrogenation and oligomerization. Professor Gates’ work has also resulted in unprecedented advances in the understanding of the interconversion of species arising from changes to reaction atmosphere and structure-function relationships at the atomic scale. Such advances were not previously achieved in the mechanistic description of surface catalysis.