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Nanoclusters that selectively catalyze oxidation reactions

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Professor Shu Kobayashi, University of Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan; www.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp), has discovered that bimetallic nanoclusters can catalyze the oxidation of alcohols. Kobayashi’s group has demonstrated the ability to control the reaction pathways of alcohol oxidation to aldehydes, carboxylic acids or esters using nanoclusters composed of a few to several-tens of atoms of gold, platinum and palladium. These carbon-stabilized, polymer-incarcerated, bimetallic nanocluster catalysts exhibit selective oxidation of alcohols. The reactivity and selectivity are strongly dependent on the metal pairs in the cluster and the solvent system used. For example, 1-octylalcohol reacting over a Au/Pt cluster (room temperature, 1 atm of O2 and a benzotrifluoride-water solvent) yields the corresponding aldehyde (C7H15-CHO) with 92% selectivity after 9 h, whereas a Au/Pd cluster (methanol-H2O solvent) yields the corresponding ester (C7H15-COOCH3) with 78% selectivity after 24 h. Electron microscopy shows that the average diameter of the two clusters are about the same (2 nm), but the ratio of the metal atoms are different (1:1 for Au/Pt and 4:1 to 3:1 for Au/Pd). The research is said to be the first example of controlling the reaction pathway of gold-catalyzed…
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