Microbial engineering of nanoheterostructures: biological synthesis of a magnetically recoverable palladium nanocatalyst

ACS Nano. 2010 May 25;4(5):2577-84. doi: 10.1021/nn9017944.


Precious metals supported on ferrimagnetic particles have a diverse range of uses in catalysis. However, fabrication using synthetic methods results in potentially high environmental and economic costs. Here we show a novel biotechnological route for the synthesis of a heterogeneous catalyst consisting of reactive palladium nanoparticles arrayed on a nanoscale biomagnetite support. The magnetic support was synthesized at ambient temperature by the Fe(III)-reducing bacterium, Geobacter sulfurreducens , and facilitated ease of recovery of the catalyst with superior performance due to reduced agglomeration (versus conventional colloidal Pd nanoparticles). Surface arrays of palladium nanoparticles were deposited on the nanomagnetite using a simple one-step method without the need to modify the biomineral surface, most likely due to an organic coating priming the surface for Pd adsorption, which was produced by the bacterial culture during the formation of the nanoparticles. A combination of EXAFS and XPS showed the Pd nanoparticles on the magnetite to be predominantly metallic in nature. The Pd(0)-biomagnetite was tested for catalytic activity in the Heck reaction coupling iodobenzene to ethyl acrylate or styrene. Rates of reaction were equal to or superior to those obtained with an equimolar amount of a commercial colloidal palladium catalyst, and near complete conversion to ethyl cinnamate or stilbene was achieved within 90 and 180 min, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acrylates / chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Engineering / methods*
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide / chemistry
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide / metabolism
  • Geobacter / metabolism*
  • Green Chemistry Technology
  • Iodobenzenes / chemistry
  • Magnetics*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Palladium / chemistry*
  • Styrene / chemistry
  • X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy


  • Acrylates
  • Iodobenzenes
  • Styrene
  • Palladium
  • ethyl acrylate
  • iodobenzene
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide