When gold is not noble: catalysis by nanoparticles

Chem Rec. 2003;3(2):75-87. doi: 10.1002/tcr.10053.


Bulk gold is chemically inert and is generally regarded as a poor catalyst. However, when gold is in very small particles with diameters below 10 nm and is deposited on metal oxides or activated carbon, it becomes surprisingly active, especially at low temperatures, for many reactions such as CO oxidation and propylene epoxidation. The catalytic performance of Au is defined by three major factors: contact structure, support selection, and particle size. The role of the perimeter interfaces of Au particles as the sites for reactions is discussed as well as the change in chemical reactivity of Au clusters composed of fewer than 300 atoms.