Home Facility Spotlight Facility Spotlight | Elettra – the Italian synchrotron at Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste

Facility Spotlight | Elettra – the Italian synchrotron at Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste

12th März 2020

Research highlight

Understand carbon-carbon bonds simulating liquid fuels production

Metallic cobalt nanoparticles are used as catalyst in the Fischer-Tropsch reaction. This chemical process is used on a commercial scale to convert synthesis gas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, into liquid transportation fuels and other long chain hydrocarbons. Synthesis gas is predominantly produced from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, but it can also be produced in a sustainable manner using biomass or green hydrogen and CO2. These alternative sources of synthesis gas, followed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis to produce liquid fuels, is often mentioned in scenarios for the sustainable production of hydrocarbon-based products such as kerosene needed for air transport and as a renewable feedstock for the chemical industry. 

(a) 2D plot of C1s intensity and (b) high-resolution C1s spectra during heating a C2H2ad/2Had-covered Co(0001) surface in CO. From the behavior of the C1s spectra while heating we determine the temperatures at which CxHy adsorbates react while the spectral deconvolution into different components reveals the identity of the intermediates formed at each stage

Mechanistic insight into carbon-carbon bond formation on cobalt under simulated Fischer-Tropsch synthesis conditions

In the work, a single crystal surface of cobalt Co(0001) has been used as a simplified model system. Ethene (C2H4) was chosen as a precursor to generate C2Hx adsorbates on the Co surface to study their reactivity. The high-resolution photoelectron spectroscopy (HR-XPS) together with the high-speed data acquisition (fast-XPS) available at the SuperESCA beamline of Elettra allows the determination of the concentration and chemical identity of the surface intermediates that form when the ethylene precursor reacts on the surface. In industrial processes during the reaction, the surface is covered to a significant extent by CO molecules, and this was simulated by using a high CO coverage in the experiments. The results provide detailed information about the mechanism by which carbon-carbon bonds form on a cobalt catalyst, an important elementary step in the formation of long-chain hydrocarbon products in the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process.

J. Weststrate et al., Nature Communications 11 (2020), 750.

Facility Description

The third-generation electron storage ring Elettra, operated by the Elettra Laboratory of Sincrotrone Trieste S.C.p.A. since 1993, feeds 27 beamlines. Researchers from more than 50 different countries, selected by an international committee based on the quality of their scientific proposals, access the facility each year. Elettra enables an international community of researchers from academy and industry to characterize structures and functions of matter with sensitivity to molecular and atomic levels, to pattern and nanofabricate new structures and devices, and to develop new processes.

Since 2010 the Elettra electron storage ring, upgraded with a full-energy injector in 2007, operates in top-up mode for users. Elettra operates routinely at two different electron energies, 2.0 GeV and 2.4 GeV providing photons with energies from a few tenths eV to tenths keV. All of the most important photon (X-ray and IR) based techniques in the areas of spectroscopy, diffraction, scattering, imaging and lithography are present, including also the unique inelastic ultraviolet scattering (IUVS). Versatile experimental stations are maintained at the state-of-the art, offering unique means to carry out outstanding research in diverse fields and disciplines.

For more details, visit the Elettra page on the wayforlight.eu portal.

Elettra Brillance

Elettra Brillance © Elettra

Because of its central location in Europe and its central role in the relevant science and technology networks, Elettra increasingly attracts users from Central and Eastern European, where the demand for synchrotron radiation continues to grow. Elettra also hosts the Statutory Seat of the Central European Research Infrastructure Consortium CERIC-ERIC. But Elettra’s outreach is far more significant and reaches many more countries around the world through longterm relations with the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) of UNESCO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In fact, access by researchers from developing countries as well as from India and Iran is continuously increasing. Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste has been the coordinator of the EU-supported networks involving synchrotron and free electron lasers in the European area, for the last decade.

In summer 2020, Elettra will be involved in the “European Science Open Forum” (ESOF) conference as well as in the “Science in the City Festival”.

Ugrade Plans

Although Elettra will continue serving the scientific community for many more years, we have designed the next generation facility, Electra 2.0, as a fully diffraction-limited ring.

The new accelerator will operate mainly at 2.4 GeV, replacing the current machine in the same tunnel. The lattice is a special symmetric 6-bend achromat (S6BA-E) with an emittance of 250 pm-rad and very small spot size and divergence (< 60 microns horizontal, <3 microns vertical, < 6 micro-rad). The photon source points from the insertion devices will remain in the same position as at present. For the dipole beamlines, various options are offered: either by short 2 T wigglers or by installing super-bends.

The project for Elettra 2.0 has received full funding approval from the Italian Finance Ministry for 170MEuro in 2017 with an estimated dark period (beam off/beam on) of 18 months. A conceptual design report is already available. The new machine will be diffraction-limited in the horizontal plane for  ? ? 15Å and in the vertical at 1% coupling for ? ? 0.15Å, whereas its coherent fraction at 1keV will be 38%.

Techniques available at the Elettra storage ring © Elettra

The improved source properties of Elettra 2.0 will push the performance of coherence- and photon-hungry techniques such as CDI, RIXS, XPCS, and all types of nano-spectroscopies. This, in turn, will lead to important advances in multi-length scale characterization of all types of matter with vastly improved spatial and temporal resolution.

Contact Elettra


Here you can contact the Elettra User Office.