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Title: Nanoconfinement Effects in Catalysis

In this investigation, the unique properties that stem from the constrained environment and enforced proximity of functional groups at the active site were demonstrated for a number of systems. The first system is a nanocage structure with silicon-based, atom-thick shells and molecular-size cavities. The shell imparts the expected size exclusion for access to the interior cavity, and the confined space together with the hydrophobic shell strongly influences the stability of charged groups. One consequence is that the interior amine groups in a siloxane nanocage exhibit a shift in their protonation ability that is equivalent to about 4 pH units. In another nanocage structure designed to possess a core-shell structure in which the core periphery is decorated with carboxylic acid groups and the shell interior is populated with silanol groups, the restricted motion of the core results in limiting the stoichiometry of reaction between carboxylic acid and a Co2CO8 complex, which leads to formation and stabilization of Co(I) ions in the nanocage. The second designed catalytic structure is a supported, isolated, Lewis acid Sn-oxide unit derived from a (POSS)-Sn-(POSS) molecular complex (POSS = incompletely condensed silsesquioxane). The Sn center in the (POSS)-Sn-(POSS) complex is present in a tetrahedral coordination, as confirmedmore » by single crystal x-ray crystallography and Sn NMR, and its Lewis acid character is demonstrated with its binding to amines. The retention of the tetrahedral coordination of Sn after heterogenization and mild oxidative treatment is confirmed by characterization using EXAFS, NMR, UV-vis, and DRIFT, and its Lewis acid character is confirmed by stoichiometric binding with pyridine. This Sn-catalyst is active in hydride transfer reactions as a typical solid Lewis acid. In addition, the Sn centers can also create Brønsted acidity with alcohol by binding the alcohol strongly as alkoxide and transferring the hydroxyl H to the neighboring Sn-O-Si bond. The resulting acidic silanol is active in epoxide ring opening and acetalization reactions. The open structure of the Sn center makes it accessible to larger molecules, including cellobiose which can be converted to 5-(hydroxymethyl)-furfural. The third structure is a support planted with functional group pairing of a known separation distance. Using a precursor molecule that contains a hydrolysable silyl ester bond, and making use of known chemistry to convert silanol groups into amino/pyridyl and phosphinyl groups, silica surfaces with carboxylic acid/silanol, carboxylic acid/amine, carboxylic acid/pyridine, and carboxylic acid/phosphine pairs can be constructed. The amino groups paired with carboxylic acid on such a surface is more active in the Henry reaction of 4-nitobenzaldehyde with nitromethane.« less
  1. Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (United States)
Publication Date:
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States