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Aggregation-Free Gold Nanoparticles in Ordered Mesoporous Carbons: Toward Highly Active and Stable Heterogeneous Catalysts

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journal contribution
posted on 14.08.2013, 00:00 by Shuai Wang, Qingfei Zhao, Huimin Wei, Jian-Qiang Wang, Minhyung Cho, Hae Sung Cho, Osamu Terasaki, Ying Wan
A coordination-assisted synthetic approach is reported here for the synthesis of highly active and stable gold nanoparticle catalysts in ordered mesoporous carbon materials using triblock copolymer F127 as a structure-directing agent, thiol-containing silane as a coordination agent, HAuCl4 as a gold source, and phenolic resin as a carbon source. Upon carbonization, the gold precursor becomes reduced to form monodispersed Au nanoparticles of ca. 9.0 nm, which are entrapped or confined by the “rigid” mesoporous carbonaceous framework. Nanoparticle aggregation is inhibited even at a high temperature of 600 °C. After removal of the silica component, the materials possess the ordered mesostructure, high surface area (∼1800 m2/g), large pore volume (∼1.19 cm3/g), and uniform bimodal mesopore size (<2.0 and 4.0 nm). The monodispersed gold nanoparticles are highly exposed because of the interpenetrated bimodal pores in the carbon framework, which exhibit excellent catalytic performance. A completely selective conversion of benzyl alcohol in water to benzoic acid can be achieved at 90 °C and 1 MPa oxygen. Benzyl alcohol can also be quantitatively converted to benzoic acid at 60 °C even under an atmospheric pressure, showing great advantages in green chemistry. The catalysts are stable, poison resistant, and reusable with little activity loss due to metal leaching. The silane coupling agent played several functions in this approach: (1) coordinating with gold species by the thiol group to benefit formation of monodispersed Au nanoparticles; (2) reacting with phenolic resins by silanol groups to form relatively “rigid” composite framework; (3) pore-forming agent to generate secondary pores in carbon pore walls, which lead to higher surface area, larger pore volumes, and higher accessibility to to the gold nanoparticles. Complete removal of the silica component proves to have little effect on the catalytic performance of entrapped Au nanoparticles.