Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Find Controls to Gold Nanocatalysis

10.08.2006
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have made a discovery that could allow scientists to exercise more control over the catalytic activity of gold nanoclusters.

The finding – that the dimensionality and structure, and thus the catalytic activity, of gold nanoclusters changes as the thickness of their supporting metal-oxide films is varied – is an important one in the rapidly developing field of nanotechnology. This and further advances in nanocatalysis may lead to lowering the cost of manufacturing materials from plastics to fertilizers. The research appeared in the July 21, 2006 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.

"We've been searching for methods for controlling and tuning the nanocatalytic activity of gold nanoclusters,” said Uzi Landman, director of the Center for Computational Materials Science and Regents’ professor and Callaway chair of physics at Georgia Tech. “I believe the effect we discovered, whereby the structure and dimensionality of supported gold nanoclusters can be influenced and varied by the thickness of the underlying magnesium-oxide film may open new avenues for controlled nanocatalytic activity,” he said.

Landman’s research group has been exploring the catalytic properties of gold, which is inert in its bulk form, for about seven years. In 1999, along with the experimental group of Ueli Heiz and Wolf-Dieter Schneider at the University of Lausanne, Landman’s group showed that gold exhibits remarkable catalytic capabilities to speed the rate of chemical reactions if it is clustered in groups of eight to about two dozen atoms in size.

Last year in the journal Science, the teams of Landman and Heiz (now at the Technical University of Munich) showed that this catalytic activity involves defects, in the form of missing oxygen atoms, in the catalytic bed on which the gold clusters rest. These defect sites, referred to as F-centers, serve as sites for the gold to anchor itself, giving the gold clusters a slight negative charge. The charged gold transfers an electron to the reacting molecules, weakening the chemical bonds that keep them together. Once the bond is sufficiently weakened, it may be broken, allowing reactions to occur between the adsorbed reactants.

Now Landman’s group has found that by using a thin catalytic bed with a thickness of up to 1 nanometer (nm), or 4-5 layers, of magnesium oxide, one may activate the gold nanoclusters which may act then as catalysts even if the bed is defect-free. A model reaction tested in these studies is one where carbon monoxide and molecular oxygen combine to form carbon dioxide, even at low temperatures. In these reactions, the bond connecting the two atoms in the adsorbed oxygen molecule weakens, thus, promoting the reaction with CO.

In this study, Landman and company simulated the behavior of gold nanoclusters containing eight, sixteen and twenty atoms when placed on catalytic beds of magnesium oxide with a molybdenum substrate supporting the magnesium oxide film. Quantum mechanical calculations showed that when the magnesium oxide film was greater than 5 layers or 1 nm in thickness, the gold cluster kept its three-dimensional structure. However, when the film was less than 1nm, the cluster changed its structure and lied flat on the magnesia bed –wetting and adhering to it.

The gold flattens because the electronic charge from the molybdenum penetrates through the thin layer of magnesium oxide and accumulates at the region where the gold cluster is anchored to the magnesium oxide. With a negative charge underneath the gold nanocluster, its attraction to the molybdenum substrate, located under the magnesia film, causes the cluster to collapse.

"It’s the charge that controls the adhesive strength of gold to the magnesia film, and at the same time it makes gold catalytically active,” said Landman. “When you have a sufficiently thin layer of magnesium oxide, the charge from the underlying metal penetrates through – all the way to the interface of the gold cluster.”

In the previous experimental studies, defects in the magnesium oxide were required to bring about charging of the adsorbed clusters.

"Until now, the metal substrate was regarded only as an experimental necessity for growing the magnesium oxide films on top of it. Now we found that it can be used as a design feature of the catalytic system. This field holds many surprises,” said Landman.

Landman’s group is currently undertaking further explorations into possibilities to regulate the charge, and hence the catalytic activity, in gold nanocatalytic systems.

Landman and Heiz’s book titled “Nanocatalysis” is scheduled to be published this month.

The current research was performed at the Center for Computational Materials Science by postdoctoral fellows Davide Ricci and Angelo Bongiorno under the supervision of Landman. The research team also included Dr. Gianfranco Pacchioni, a colleague from the University of Milano.

The research appearing in the journal Science in 2005 was led by Landman and Heiz with Research Scientist Bokwon Yoon of the Center for Computational Materials Science as lead author.

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the nation's premiere research universities. Ranked ninth among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities, Georgia Tech educates more than 17,000 students every year through its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech maintains a diverse campus and is among the nation's top producers of women and African-American engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute. During the 2004-2005 academic year, Georgia Tech reached $357 million in new research award funding. The Institute also maintains an international presence with campuses in France and Singapore and partnerships throughout the world.

David Terraso | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu
http://www.gatech.edu/news-room/release.php?id=1078

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Astronomers release most complete ultraviolet-light survey of nearby galaxies
18.05.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht A quantum entanglement between two physically separated ultra-cold atomic clouds
17.05.2018 | University of the Basque Country

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>