2D metallic carbide as active and selective catalysts for direct oxidation of CH4

Project Director: Dr. Mihaela FLOREA
Project ID:
ERC-Like 1/2021/ 2DreaM
Principal Investigator: Dr. habil. Mihaela Florea
Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, UEFISCDI
Contractor:  National Institute of Materials Physics

The project nature, which is at the frontier between catalysis and materials science, is a good opportunity for the researchers and PhD students to be trained in different areas necessary to conduct modern research in chemistry.

Relevant expertise: The team’s competences are in the field of chemistry,  catalysis and materials physics.

Added value: A deep understanding through characterization of the new materials; recommendation of ways to make the materials more competitive.

The 2DreaM team is the following:

Mihaeala Florea, PhD, habil. - principal investigator, specialized in material synthesis and surface characterization, in charge with the management and dissemination tasks


Florentina Neatu, PhD, specialist in material synthesis, good experience working with characterization techniques; dissemination

Stefan Neatu, PhD, with competence in materials synthesis and characterization and dissemination.

Anca Mirea- PhD, postdoc, in charge with electron microscopy studies characterization, dissemination.

Toton Haldar- PhD, postdoc, in charge with methane oxidation reaction study, stability and dissemination.

Mihaela M. Trandafir, PhD, postdoc, in charge with samples preparation, dissemination.

Iulia M. Chirica, PhD student, in charge with RAMAN and UV-vis characterization, dissemination.

Team of the project!

Selective activation of C–H bonds in direct oxidation of methane (DOM) is still an unsolved problem, owing to methane inert nature and less thermodynamically stable oxidation products. Since CH4 transformations are based on high-temperature (>700 °C), expensive energy and cost technologies, new generation of catalysts is required to convert CH4 and O2 directly into valuable chemicals in high yields, at lower temperatures (200–400 °C).
The main driving force of 2DreaM is to elaborate a new generation of catalytic systems based on 2D carbide-nitride materials for DOM to valuable compounds, with high efficiencies and under environmentally friendly conditions.
Classical heterogeneous systems involve a metal deposited on an oxidic support: M/MOx, where the metal’s ability to chemisorb hydrogen is impeded by the oxide migration to the surface. Starting from this approach and being aware of the essential required properties for direct CH4 transformation, we propose a creative concept: an “upside down” catalytic system in which small entities of metal oxide are deposited on a 2D “metallic” material: MOx/M. Our strategy is to use as support transition metals (TM) 2D carbide materials, able to activate the C–H bond, decorated with different MOx . This way, the highly tunable “metallic” surfaces provide an increased number of active sites to chemisorb and labilise the C–H bond, promoting its selective oxidation by MOx species. Such materials have never been used as heterogeneous catalysts in DOM, that’s why the 2DreaM challenge is immense, but so is the reward.



During the first stage of the project,  samples containing different amount of VOx were prepared. They were supported using different preparation methods. The X-ray diffraction and XPS analysis indicate the successful deposition of VOx on the MAX phase.


In this year our team has been awarded twice with beam time at PSI Synchrotron.

According to the working plan, in this stage we envisaged the detailed physico-chemical characterization of the materials prepared by P1.


Internships  for students from the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Bucharest were organised within the project topic.

Participation in a project, CHEMPOET, aiming at spreading science, especially chemistry in high schools.

More information can be found on http://chempoet.mariusmatache.ro

1. Articles


1.1. Ultra-stable, 1D TiO2 Lepidocrocite for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production in Water-

Methanol Mixtures, Hussein O. Badr, Varun Natu,  Ștefan Neațu, Florentina Neațu,3 Andrei Kuncser, Arpad

M. Rostas, Matthew Racey, Michel W. Barsoum and Mihaela Florea, submitted to Joule, October 2022, (IF= 41)

1.2. A comparative overview of MXenes and metal oxides in clean energy production through photocatalysis,

Mahesh M. Nair, Alexandra C. Iacoban, Florentina Neațu, Mihaela Florea,  and Ștefan Neațu, submitted to J. Mat. Chem. A, November 2022 (IF=12)


2. Conferences

2.1. Selective oxidation of p-cymene using MAX Phase catalysts, Iuliana M. Chirica, Mihaela M. Trandafir, Florentina Neatu, Stefan Neatu,  Michel W. Barsoum, Mihaela Florea, Catalysis Science & Technology Symposium 2021, 16-17 November, poster presentation - BEST POSTER price 

2.2. Unprecedented chemoselective behaviour of MAX phase in functionalized nitroarene hydrogenation, Iuliana M. Chirica, Mihaela M. Trandafir, Florentina Neatu, Stefan Neatu, Andrei Kuncser, Varun Natu, Michel W. Barsoum, Mihaela Florea, 8th EuChemS Congress 2022, 27 August 2022 - 3 September 2022, Lisabone, Portugal, oral presentation

2.3. MXene and MAX phase as catalysts for selective oxidation reactions, Iuliana M. Chirica, Mihaela M. Trandafir, Florentina Neațu, Ștefan Neațu, Michel W. Barsoum, Mihaela Florea, 2nd international MXene conference at Drexel University, August 1-3, 2022, Philadelphia, USA, poster presenatation.

2.4. Dynamic surfaces of MAX phase and MXene in catalytic processes, Florentina Neatu, Stefan Neatu, Luca Artiglia, Marius Husanu, Michel Barsoum, Mihaela Florea, 9th Annual Ambient Pressure X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy Workhop, 6-9 December, PSI, Swiss, oral presentation

Project Contact Person:

Dr. Mihaela Florea, mihaela.florea@infim.ro

Postal address: Atomistilor street, no. 405A, Magurele, 077125, Romania


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