Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-2020

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Jerry LaRue, Dr. Bingjie Zhang


Catalysis provides pathways for efficient and selective chemical reactions by lowering the energy barriers for desired products. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) show excellent promise as plasmonic catalysts. Plasmonic materials have localized surface plasmon resonances, oscillations of the electron bath at the surface of a nanoparticle, that generate energetically intense electric fields which rapidly decay into energetically excited electrons. The excited electrons have the potential to destabilize atoms strongly bound to the catalysts through occupation of antibonding orbitals. Tuning the antibonding orbitals to make them accessible for occupancy by electrons is achieved by coating the AuNP in a thin layer of another transition metal, such as ruthenium, silver, or platinum, creating a bimetallic nanoparticle. We will initially study carbon monoxide (CO) oxidation in the presence of ruthenium-gold bimetallic nanoparticles (RuAuNPs), as CO oxidation is a well modeled system. Carbon and oxygen atoms are strongly bound in CO molecules and the bond between oxygen and ruthenium is typically strong, inhibiting reaction rates. Excited electrons from the AuNPs can transfer to the oxygen-ruthenium antibonding orbital and weaken the bond and making the atomic oxygen more reactive. We will observe the CO oxidation reaction and, subsequently, the chemical properties of the synthesized RuAuNP catalysts, in a modified single-tangent photoreactor chamber that we designed during the SURF program. A light source will be used to excite the RuAuNPs and the photocatalytic activity of the bimetallic catalysts will be assessed via mass spectrometry.


Presented at the 2020 SURF Virtual Summer Research Conference.