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Photocatalytic Synthesis of Copper Colloids from Cu(II) by the Ferrihydrite Core of Ferritin

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journal contribution
posted on 31.05.2004, 00:00 by Daniel Ensign, Mark Young, Trevor Douglas
The iron-storage protein ferritin encapsulates a nanoparticle of iron oxide. The size and properties of these nanoparticles can be adjusted by controlled oxidative hydrolysis reactions of Fe(II). This mineralized ferritin protein cage has previously been shown to act as an effective photocatalyst for reduction of Cr(VI). In the present work, we demonstrate that Fe(O)OH-mineralized ferritin catalyzes the photoreduction of Cu(II) to form a stable, air-sensitive, colloidal dispersion of Cu(0). In addition, the particle sizes of the Cu colloids can be controlled by varying the ratio of Cu(II) to ferritin. This illustrates an important principle, namely that the properties of one preformed material can be utilized for the specific synthesis of a second material, thus tailoring the desired physical properties of the final products. This procedure represents a multistep materials synthesis:  the formation of a new nanomaterial from a catalytic precursor.