Gold nanoparticle catalyst that learns from enzyme in nature

November 15, 2012
Schematic diagram of the new catalyst. (a) The new catalyst has a structure in which gold nanoparticles (AuNP) having a size of 10nm (1/100 millionth of 1m) coated with alkanethiol are regularly arranged on a flat substrate. (b) In this scanning electron microscope image, it can be understood that the actual size of the AuNP is 9.0nm, and the gap between the AuNP is 2.4nm.

A NIMS research team has succeeded in the development of a high activity gold nanoparticle catalyst that simplify the function of enzyme in capturing substances.

This new type of catalyst mimics enzyme, which supports biological activities as a catalyst in the reactions of the living body. Metalloenzymes has metal element which functions as a catalyst in the active center, and manifest extremely high activity and selectivity by possessing a function in which proteins surrounding the vicinity capture designated substances at activity sites. The NIMS group succeeded in realizing catalytic activity similar to that of metalloenzymes by simplifying the structure of these metalloenzymes in coated with alkanethiol molecules.

In this work, the NIMS research group focused on the fact that a self-assembled alkanethiol monolayer formed on the surface of gold nanoparticles (AuNP) possesses an interaction similar to that of cell membranes (), which capture molecules of designated lengths and shapes. Because the molecules which are captured on the particle surface by this interaction increase the probability of contact with the gold particle surface, which has a , the is accelerated. Concretely, a high activity catalytic reaction was discovered, in which silane molecules are efficiently activated on the surface of gold, which is a catalyst, by capture of silane molecules and alcohol molecules on the surface of the .

As this result confirmed the mechanism of a catalytic reaction similar to that of metalloenzymes, it is expected to be possible to realize catalysts with a combination of high activity and high selectivity by designing modified molecules for AuNP. Furthermore, unlike natural enzyme, which can only be used stable in aqueous solutions, AuNP display extremely high chemical stability, enabling use under acidic and basic solution conditions and in . Thus, there are no restrictions on industrial use.

This research was carried out as part of the research subject "Spatial and Temporal Integration of Near Field Reinforced Photochemical Reactions." A patent application has already been filed in connection with this research. These results will soon be published in the journal of Advanced Materials.

Explore further: Gold, copper nanoparticles take center stage in the search for hydrogen production catalysts

Related Stories

Platinum nanocatalyst could aid drugmakers

August 31, 2009

( -- Nanoparticles combining platinum and gold act as superefficient catalysts, but chemists have struggled to create them in an industrially useful form. Rice University chemists have answered the call this week ...

Scientists' gold discovery sheds light on catalysis

August 13, 2012

( -- A physicist at the University of York has played a key role in international research which has made an important advance in establishing the catalytic properties of gold at a nano level.

Recommended for you

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

New 'self-healing' gel makes electronics more flexible

November 25, 2015

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a first-of-its-kind self-healing gel that repairs and connects electronic circuits, creating opportunities to advance the ...

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

November 23, 2015

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists at the University of York to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first ...

Atom-sized craters make a catalyst much more active

November 24, 2015

Bombarding and stretching an important industrial catalyst opens up tiny holes on its surface where atoms can attach and react, greatly increasing its activity as a promoter of chemical reactions, according to a study by ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.