Reports: DNI1056265-DNI10: Stable Ultra Small Noble Metal Nanoparticle Catalysts

Qing Peng, PhD, University of Alabama

Summary of current progress of the project.

We have accomplished our first-year milestone. Within the first year of this project, we found that the proposed idea is feasible with some technical modification. We found new polymer systems that can work with the proposed strategy to make oxide shells (Fig. 1). We demonstrate the polymer shell can be used as the seed layer for metal organics to build the oxide shells (Fig. 1).

·       Identified several polymer chemistries that can initialize subsurface Al2O3 formation

·       Successfully synthesized Au nanoparticles (NPs)/Al2O3 core-shell particles;

·       Showed effectiveness of Al2O3 shells in improving thermal stability of Au nanoparticles

·       Characterized the morphology and structure of Au/Al2O3;

·       In the progress of testing the catalytic properties of Au/Al2O3;

·       Builds up collaboration with other groups.

We are making progress on the 2nd year milestone

·       Testing the catalytic properties of Au/Al2O3;

·       Applying the knowledge to other catalysts which have stability problems;

·       Seeking funding from different agents NSF and DOE.

Fig. 1 Polymer/Au nanoparticles (a) without ALD; (b) after 3 cycles ALD Al2O3; (c) after 3 cycles ALD Al2O3 and 6 hours annealing in air at 900 ˚C; (d) without ALD, 6 hours annealing in air at 900 ˚C. Scale bar: 200 nm.

Impact of the research

·       Impact on the career of the PI: My research background is thin film and nanomaterials synthesis. This ACS-PRF new investigator award helps me get into the field of catalysis and energy. With this funding, I am able to build up preliminary data for proposals to NSF and DOE. It gives me time to read literature and build up my knowledge and understanding of the catalysis and energy field. It also provides time for me to build up catalyst testing facility. The funding enables me to attend American Vacuum Society International Symposium and to present our work. This project builds up my confidence in being an independent investigator and gives me courage to try new things and test novel and risky ideas. This project also enables me to branch into other catalyst and energy related researches. It enabled us to build up collaborations with researchers in designing and synthesizing new catalysts with superior thermal stability and catalytic activity. This result enables us to submit a proposal to DOE.

·       Impact on the student who participated in the project. One student is supported by this project. He enjoys this cross-disciplinary project. Through this support, he builds up his knowledge in catalysis, gas-solid reaction and diffusion, nanoparticle synthesis, and nanomaterials characterization, catalytic property testing. He passed his qualification and shows capability of doing research. This one year research trained him in the aspect of designing experiments, formulating testing hypothesis, and executing experiments. It also helps him get familiar with all kinds of instruments, including TEM, SEM, XPS, XRD, IR, AFM, ALD, TPD, MS, and ICP. This student has not only gone through these time-consuming training, but also finished one year core course study and make progress on the research project. This project also provides him an opportunity to collaborate with other groups. Currently, he has a couple of papers in the pipeline and we plan to submit them within 6 months. This student has attended several conferences to present his work in this project. Through the presentation, he learns and improves his communication skills.