The alloying of metals with foreign elements is a common approach for manipulating catalytic properties of active sites. For palladium-based catalysts, incorporation of light elements receives far less attention than Pd-metal alloys even though incorporated light element are catalytically significant. Due to their small size, light elements (H, B, C, and O) can occupy octahedral sites in Pd to form an interstitial phase, while palladium adjusts its lattice to accommodate the incorporation of larger light elements (S and P) to form distinct phases. The incorporated light element modifies the electronic structure of palladium, influencing the binding energy of substrates and reactive intermediates. Pd hydride and oxide often form in situ during hydrogenation or oxidation reactions, respectively, representing the (more, less) active phase of the catalyst. The reactive interstitial hydrogen dissolved in Pd tends to hydrogenate reactants completely and unselectively. Pd oxide can be the active phase for oxidation reactions, and the incorporated oxygen or oxygen vacancies may participate in the reaction directly. Incorporated light elements change geometric aspects of Pd ensembles, serving the role of site blocking, ensemble isolation, or serve as an additional active site, endowing Pd with bifunctional character. We review the synthetic approaches for incorporating light elements into the palladium lattice. We summarize the catalytic influence of light element incorporation into the palladium lattice with respect to electronic and geometric modification, in situ incorporated hydrogen and oxygen, and discuss the influence of light element incorporation into Pd on specific reactions (i.e., selective hydrogenation, oxidation, electrocatalysis, and C–C cross coupling).
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