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Molybdenum is the sixth most abundant element in Earth’s crust and primarily occurs as various compounds. It forms hard, stable carbides (MoC and Mo2C) that are used in alloys to make strong, wear resistant materials. The carbide is also a unique material that exhibits excellent catalytic properties in a wide range of reactions, including selective isomerization of hydrocarbons, hydrogenation, ammonia synthesis, hydrodeoxygenation and water-gas shift.

Ma et al. prepared a nickel-doped molybdenum carbide using a temperature-programmed reduction method, where the reaction was carried out in a reactor with Teflon valves to avoid air contact during the reaction, as these materials are highly pyrophoric. The resulting carbide was analyzed for phase segregation and metal distribution. X-ray diffraction patterns showed the formation of a MoC crystalline phase with a cubic structure, and a NiO NiC phase with a hexagonal structure.

XANES data showed that the Mo K-edge oxidation state in 2D-Mo2C was different from that of b-Mo2C, with a change in the post white line region (Fig. 1). Furthermore, 2D-Mo2C demonstrated superior catalytic activity for the FT of n-alkanes compared to that of b-Mo2C and g-MoC.

These results suggest that the chemical sensing of Mo-based carbides can be applied to develop novel gas sensors. The sensor materials could have application in hot parts that are exposed to low stresses such as non-rotating components of gas turbines and aircraft engines. The sensor could also serve as a replacement for the costly and complex nickel-based superalloys currently used for this purpose.

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