Dr. Maricruz Sanchez-Sanchez

Group Leader

Catalysis Research Center and Chemistry Department

Technische Universität München

Lichtenbergstraße 4

85748 Garching, Germany


Biographical Note

2017Jochen Block Prize of the German Catalysis Society (GeCatS)

Research grant from the Max-Buchner-Forschungstiftung (DECHEMA), in the topic
“Selective synthesis of active Cu-oxo clusters in zeolites
for methane activation at low temperatures”

since 2012TU München, Technical Chemistry Department II (Prof. J.A. Lercher)
2010 - 2012Postdoctoral Fellow at Fritz Haber Institute der Max Planck Institut, Berlin, Germany.
Inorganic Chemistry Department (Prof. R. Schlögl)
2009 - 2010Postdoctoral Fellow at Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry, Madrid, Spain (Prof. J.L.G. Fierro)
2004 - 2008PhD Chemistry at Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry, Madrid, Spain (Prof. J.L.G. Fierro)
1997 - 2003Chemical Engineering Degree at University of Granada, Spain

Research and selected publications


D. Melzer, G. Mestl, K. Wanninger, Y. Zhu, N. D. Browning, M. Sanchez-Sanchez* and J. A. Lercher*. Design and synthesis of highly active MoVTeNb-oxides for ethane oxidative dehydrogenation. Nature Communications 10 (2019), 4012.


Y. Liu, F. M. Kirchberger, S. Müller, M. Eder, M. Tonigold, M. Sanchez-Sanchez*, J. A. Lercher*. Critical role of formaldehyde during methanol conversion to hydrocarbons. Nature Communications (2019), Just Accepted DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09449-7.

3 S. Schallmoser, G. L. Haller, M. Sanchez-Sanchez*, and J. A. Lercher*. Role of Spatial Constraints of Brønsted Acid Sites for Adsorption and Surface Reactions of Linear Pentenes. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139 (25), 8646–8652.

Y. Zhu, P. V. Sushko, D. Melzer, E. Jensen, L. Kovarik, C. Ophus, M. Sanchez-Sanchez, J. A. Lercher* and N. D. Browning*. Formation of Oxygen Radical Sites on MoVNbTeOx by Cooperative Electron Redistribution. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139 (36), 12342–12345.


D. Melzer, P. Xu, D. Hartmann, Y. Zhu, N. D. Browning*, M. Sanchez-Sanchez* and J. A. Lercher*. Atomic-Scale Determination of Active Facets on the MoVTeNb Oxide M1 Phase and Their Intrinsic Catalytic Activity for Ethane Oxidative Dehydrogenation. Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. 55 (2016) 8773-8777.


S. Müller, Y. Liu, F. M. Kirchberger, M.Tonigold, M. Sanchez-Sanchez* and J. A. Lercher*. Hydrogen transfer pathways during zeolite catalyzed methanol conversion to hydrocarbons. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138 (49), 15994–16003.


Y. Liu, S. Müller, D. Berger, J. Jelic, K. Reuter, M. Tonigold, M. Sanchez-Sanchez*, J. A. Lercher*. Formation Mechanism of the First Carbon-Carbon Bond and First Olefin Formation in Methanol Conversion to Hydrocarbons. Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. 55 (2016) 5723-5726.


S. Grundner, M.A.C. Markovits, G. Li, M. Tromp, E. A. Pidko, E. J. M. Hensen, A. Jentys, M. Sanchez-Sanchez, J. A. Lercher*. Single-site trinuclear copper oxygen clusters in mordenite for selective conversion of methane to methanol. Nature Communications 6 (2015), 7546.

Direct methane oxidation to methanol on Cu-oxo clusters

Research into biomimetic inorganic catalysts for methane direct oxidation to methanol has led to a new Cu-oxo cluster supported on zeolites that is able to activate methane at mild temperatures. Different in situ spectroscopies (XAS, UV-vis, IR) supported by theory calculations in collaboration with TU Eindhoven has led to considerable insight into the chemistry and elementary steps leading to the formation of active Cu-oxo species in zeolites and other microporous supports such as metal organic frameworks (MOF).


Additional information under the links below:

About current project

Press release TUM highlights

Oxidative dehydrogenation (ODH) and selective oxidation of light alkanes

The selective oxidation of light alkanes is receiving growing attention in the last years as a way to valorize previously under-utilized carbon feedstocks. Complex mixed-oxides based on Mo and V are studied as catalysts for ODH reactions due to their redox properties and their ability to activate alkane molecules. Among these catalysts, Mo-V-Te-Nb mixed-oxide catalyst, extensively studied as an alternatives route for the direct production of acrylic acid from propane, has shown a promising performance in ODH of alkanes. The catalytic performance of Mo-V-Te-Nb mixed-oxide is mainly attributable to the crystalline phase ‘M1’. It is generally accepted that the active site of M1 involves V, and likely Mo and Te species, while the function of the crystalline structure itself is to provide for the spatial configuration and redox interaction between these species. However, a clear identification of the active site and the catalytic mechanism is still a challenge. Likewise, the optimum reaction conditions for the catalytic production of ethylene from ethane over MoVTeNbOx must be explored.

Methanol to Olefins (MTO)

The conversion of methanol into light olefins such as ethylene and propylene is a very important process for petrochemical industry. The high availability of natural gas and coal, from which methanol can be easily produced, makes this route an attractive proposition. The MTO reaction is catalyzed by acidic solids, in particular zeolites, where the active site has been identified as a surface Brønsted acid species. It has been recently shown that the presence of aromatics as by-products of the reaction enhances the methanol to olefin reaction following an auto-catalytic mechanism. On the other hand, a high degree of aromatization leads into the formation of coke and subsequent deactivation of the catalyst. In addition, a parallel reaction pathway involved is the methylation of olefins. Cracking of high olefins formed by this route is believed to play an important role in the formation of propylene, one of the most valuable light olefins. HZSM-5 zeolite, with its medium pore size, tunable acid properties and three-dimensional interconnecting pore system, is one of the most promising catalysts for MTO. In our group we address questions as the fundamental understanding of the role of both Lewis and Brønsted acidity, as well as the strength and density of these sites. With the knowledge acquired, modifications of the HZSM-5 zeolite are proposed and tested. Another approach is the study of the reaction pathways leading to deactivation, as this is one of the limitations of zeolite-type catalysts to achieving higher olefin yields.

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