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Nano Lett. 2012 Oct 10;12(10):5382-8. doi: 10.1021/nl3027636. Epub 2012 Sep 25.

Capping ligands as selectivity switchers in hydrogenation reactions.

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Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois 60439, USA.


We systematically investigated the role of surface modification of nanoparticles catalyst in alkyne hydrogenation reactions and proposed the general explanation of effect of surface ligands on the selectivity and activity of Pt and Co/Pt nanoparticles (NPs) using experimental and computational approaches. We show that the proper balance between adsorption energetics of alkenes at the surface of NPs as compared to that of capping ligands defines the selectivity of the nanocatalyst for alkene in alkyne hydrogenation reaction. We report that addition of primary alkylamines to Pt and CoPt(3) NPs can drastically increase selectivity for alkene from 0 to more than 90% with ~99.9% conversion. Increasing the primary alkylamine coverage on the NP surface leads to the decrease in the binding energy of octenes and eventual competition between octene and primary alkylamines for adsorption sites. At sufficiently high coverage of catalysts with primary alkylamine, the alkylamines win, which prevents further hydrogenation of alkenes into alkanes. Primary amines with different lengths of carbon chains have similar adsorption energies at the surface of catalysts and, consequently, the same effect on selectivity. When the adsorption energy of capping ligands at the catalytic surface is lower than adsorption energy of alkenes, the ligands do not affect the selectivity of hydrogenation of alkyne to alkene. On the other hand, capping ligands with adsorption energies at the catalytic surface higher than that of alkyne reduce its activity resulting in low conversion of alkynes.


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