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Organic solvent system may improve catalyst recycling and create new nanomedicine uses
Date:10/28/2010

s the new Georgia Tech solvent process may allow creation of novel compounds that could offer improved therapeutic effects.

"We hope this will open up some new ways of making these important pharmaceutical compounds as well as novel gold and palladium catalytic systems," he said.

Lin discovered the new solvent system by accident in 2007 while using thionyl chloride in an unrelated project that involved bonding carbon nanotubes to a gold substrate. "I left my sample in the solution and went to lunch," he recalled. "Then I received a couple of phone calls and the sample stayed in the solution for too long. When I got it out, the gold was gone."

The researchers were intrigued by the discovery and pursued an explanation as they had time over the past three years. They tested other reagents mixed with the thionyl chloride, and learned the proportions necessary for selective dissolution of palladium and gold. They worked with other researchers at Georgia Tech, including nanotechnology pioneer Zhong Lin Wang, to develop a fundamental understanding of the process research that is continuing.

The chemicals used by the Georgia Tech research team are well known in organic chemistry, and are used today in polymer synthesis. Beyond their selectivity, the new solvent system is more environmentally friendly than traditional aqua regia which is a combination of concentrated nitric and hydrochloric acids and can operate at mild conditions. Potential disadvantages compared to traditional aqua regia include higher costs and slower dissolution rates.

"We have opened up a new approach to noble metals using organic chemistry," Wong added. "We don't yet thoroughly understand the mechanism by which this works, but we hope to develop a more complete understanding that may lead to additional applications."


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Contact: John Toon
jtoon@gatech.edu
404-894-6986
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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