By modifying the rate at which chemical reactions take place, nanoparticle catalysts fulfill myriad roles in industry, the biomedical arena and everyday life. They may be used for the production of polymers and biofuels, for improving pollution and emission control devices, to enhance reactions essential for fuel cell technology and for the synthesis of new drugs. Finding new and more effective nanoparticle catalysts to perform these useful functions is therefore vital.
Now Nongjian (NJ) Tao a researcher at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute has found a clever way to measure catalytical reactions of single nanoparticles and multiple particles printed in arrays, which will help characterize and improve existing nanoparticle catalysts, and advance the search for new ones.
Most catalytic materials synthesized in labs contain particles with different sizes and shapes, each having different electrocatalytical activities, but the conventional methods measure the average properties of many nanoparticles, which smear out the properties of individual nanoparticles.
"The capability of measuring single nanoparticle catalytical reactions allows for determining the relationship between the efficiency of a catalytical reaction and the size, shape, and composition of the nanoparticle." Tao explained. "Such an imaging capability also makes it possible to image arrays of nanoparticle catalytical reactions, which may be used for fast screening of different nanoparticles," he added.
In the current study, platinum nanoparticles acting as electrochemical catalysts are investigated by means of the new technique, known as plasmonic electrochemical imaging. The method combines the spatial resolution of optical detection with the high sensitivity and selectivity of electrochemical recognition.
Results of the study appear in this week's advanced online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
|Contact: Joseph Caspermeyer|
Arizona State University