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Gold-palladium nanoparticles achieve greener, smarter production of hydrogen peroxide
Date:2/19/2009

e been studying the catalytic potential of gold nanoparticles for 15 years, coauthoring four papers in the past four years on the topic for Science and Nature. In 2006, they reported the potential of gold-palladium nanoparticles to oxidize primary alcohols to aldehydes in a more environmentally friendly manner. That reaction is important to the production of spices and perfumes. In 2008, they reported that bilayer clusters of gold nanoparticles measuring about 0.5 nm in diameter were responsible for enabling the oxidation of CO to CO2.

Their research has benefited from the aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopes (STEMs) at Lehigh as well as NIST. Lehigh was the first university in the world to acquire two of the instruments, whose aberration correctors greatly improve imaging resolution and chemical analysis capability by overcoming distortions in the lenses that tend to blur the electron beam.

In the current project, aberration-corrected STEMs at Lehigh and NIST were used to measure the composition and particle size distribution of the gold-palladium alloy, and to understand how they change with various acid-washing pretreatments.

The researchers employed several characterization techniques, including High-Angle Annular Dark Field (HAADF) imaging to measure the change in nanoparticle size and energy-dispersive x-ray (XEDS) analysis to determine the composition of individual alloy particles.

"Without the aberration-corrected STEMs, we would not have been able to unravel what was going on in this instance," says Kiely.

In addition to performing experiments on the gold-palladium catalyst, the researchers ran parallel control experiments on pure gold and pure palladium separately.

"We found it was important for the palladium to incorporate just a small amount of gold," says Kiely. "The gold appears to modify the electronic structure and thus the catalytic activity of the palladium.
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Contact: Kurt Pfitzer
kap4@lehigh.edu
610-758-3017
Lehigh University
Source:Eurekalert

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