Metal-based chemical catalysts have excellent green chemistry credentials—in principle at least. In theory, catalysts are reusable because they drive chemical reactions without being consumed.
Figure 1: A graphical representation of the retrievable and reusable polymer–metal catalyst, showing the palladium (blue) that links two imidazole polymer units (red) through their nitrogen atoms. Copyright : 2011 Yoichi Yamada
In reality, however, recovering all of a catalyst at the end of a reaction is difficult, so it is gradually lost. Now, chemists can retain, retrieve and reuse metal catalysts by trapping them with a polymer matrix, thanks to recent work by Yoichi Yamada at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute, Wako, Yasuhiro Uozumi at RIKEN and Japan’s Institute for Molecular Science and Shaheen Sarkar, also at RIKEN1.
Attaching metal catalysts to an insoluble polymer support, which is recoverable at the end of a reaction by simple filtration, is far from a new idea. Traditionally, chemists attached their metal catalyst to an insoluble polymer resin. However, the metal invariably leached out of the polymer over time so the catalysts were still slowly lost.
Yamada and his colleagues’ approach, in contrast, integrated the metal into the polymer matrix, which trapped it much more effectively. The researchers achieved this level of integration by starting with a soluble polymer precursor instead of an insoluble resin. This material contains imidazole units, a chemical structure known to bind strongly to metals such as palladium (Fig. 1). An insoluble composite material formed only after the researchers added palladium to the mixture because it causes the imidazole units to self-assemble around atoms of the metal—a process that they call ’molecular convolution’.
Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the resulting polymer–palladium globules ranged from 100 to 1,000 nanometers in diameter, which aggregated into a highly porous structure reminiscent of a tiny bathroom sponge. “This sponge-like insoluble material can easily capture substrates and reactants from the solution, which readily react with metal species embedded in the sponge,” says Yamada.
The researchers showed that the catalyst is highly active as well as reusable; it is the most active catalyst yet reported for a carbon–carbon bond-forming reaction known as an allylic arylation. They also reused the catalyst multiple times with no apparent loss of activity, and detected no leaching of palladium from the polymer into the reaction mixture.
Yamada and colleagues are now developing a range of composite catalysts incorporating different metals that can catalyze many other kinds of reactions. “These extremely highly active and reusable catalysts will provide a safe and highly efficient chemical process, which we hope will be adopted for industrial chemical process,” Yamada says.
The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Green Nanocatalysis Research Team, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute
Research team creates new possibilities for medicine and materials sciences
22.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent
22.01.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences