Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Technical University Munch have discovered evidence of a phenomenon that may lead to drastically lowering the cost of manufacturing of materials from plastics to fertilizers. Studying nano-sized clusters of gold on a magnesium oxide surface, scientists found direct evidence for electrical charging of a nano-sized catalyst. This is an important factor in increasing the rate of chemical reactions. The research will appear in the 21 January, 2005, issue of the journal Science, published by the AAAS, the science society, the world’s largest general scientific organization. See http://www.sciencemag.org, and also http://www.aaas.org.
"The fabrication of most synthetic materials that we use involves using catalysts to promote reaction rates," said Uzi Landman, director of the Center for Computational Materials Science, Regents’ professor and Callaway chair of physics at Georgia Tech. "Designing catalysts that are more efficient, more selective and more specific to a certain type of reaction can lead to significant savings in manufacturing expenses. Understanding the principles that govern nanocatalysis is key to developing more effective catalysts."
The current study builds on joint research done since 1999 by the two groups that found gold, which is non-reactive in its bulk form, is a very effective catalyst when it’s in nanoclusters of eight to about two dozen atoms in size. Those specific sizes allow the gold clusters to take on a three-dimensional structure, which is important for its reactivity.
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