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Title: Size Dependence of Atomically Precise Gold Nanoclusters in Chemoselective Hydrogenation and Active Site Structure

We here investigate the catalytic properties of water-soluble Aun(SG)m nanocluster catalysts (H-SG = glutathione) of different sizes, including Au15(SG)13, Au18(SG)14, Au25(SG)18, Au38(SG)24, and captopril-capped Au25(Capt)18 nanoclusters. These Aun(SR)m nanoclusters (-SR represents thiolate generally) are used as homogeneous catalysts (i.e., without supports) in the chemoselective hydrogenation of 4-nitrobenzaldehyde (4-NO2PhCHO) to 4-nitrobenzyl alcohol (4-NO2PhCH2OH) in water with H2 gas (20 bar) as the hydrogen source. These nanocluster catalysts, except Au18(SG)14, remain intact after the catalytic reaction, evidenced by UV-vis spectra which are characteristic of each sized nanoclusters and thus serve as spectroscopic fingerprints . We observe a drastic size-dependence and steric effect of protecting ligands on the gold nanocluster catalysts in the hydrogenation reaction. Density functional theory (DFT) modeling of the 4-nitrobenzaldehyde adsorption shows that both the CHO and NO2 groups are in close interact with the S-Au-S staples on the gold nanocluster surface; the adsorption of the 4-nitrobenzaldehyde molecule on the four different sized Aun(SR)m nanoclusters are moderately strong and similar in strength. The DFT results suggest that the catalytic activity of the Aun(SR)m nanoclusters is primarily determined by the surface area of the Au nanocluster, consistent with the observed trend of the conversion of 4-nitrobenzaldehyde versus the cluster size. Overall,more » this work offers the molecular insight into the hydrogenation of 4-nitrobenzaldehyde and the catalytically active site structure on gold nanocluster catalysts.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)
  2. ORNL
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: ACS Catalysis; Journal Volume: 4; Journal Issue: 8
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Sponsoring Org:
SC USDOE - Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
Au nanocluster; water-soluble; hydrogenation; chemoselective; size effect