Interfacial wettability and mass transfer characterizations for gas–liquid–solid triple-phase catalysis

The review focuses on the strategies for evaluating the wettability-controlled mass transfer process at triple-phase interfaces. Ten types of characterizations are described based on photocatalytic and electrocatalytic reactions involving water and gas molecules. Finally, the review discusses the tasks of advanced characterizations to help understand the fundamental reaction mechanism for triple-phase catalysis.


Heterogeneous catalysis is inseparable from interfacial mass transfer and chemical reaction processes determined by the structure and microenvironment. Different from high-temperature thermochemical processes, photo- and electrocatalysis operated at mild conditions often involve both gas and liquid phases, making it important but challenging to characterize the reaction process typically occurring at the gas–liquid–solid interface. Herein, we review the scope, feasibility, and limitation of ten types of currently available technologies used to characterize interfacial wettability and mass transfer properties of various triple-phase catalytic reactions. The review summarizes techniques from macroscopic contact angle measurement to microscopic environment electron microscopy for investigating the wettability-controlled structure of triple-phase interfaces. Experimental and computational methods in revealing the interfacial mass transfer process have also been systematically discussed, followed by a perspective on the opportunities and challenges of advanced characterization methods to help understand the fundamental reaction mechanism of triple-phase catalysis.

Author list:

Run Shi, Lu Shang, Chao Zhou, Yunxuan Zhao, Tierui Zhang*

How to cite:

R. Shi, L. Shang, C. Zhou, Y. Zhao, T. Zhang, Exploration 2022, 2, 20210046.