Understanding and controlling nanoparticles catalytic behaviour at molecular level is a major challenge but ultimately the goal of heterogeneous catalyst research since it bridges the gap between model and real catalysis. Monolayer-protected metal clusters in the size-regime of 10 – 300 metal atoms are a special class of materials that have gained significant interest, since it was realized recently that such clusters can be obtained with precise composition and in large quantities. The strongly size-dependent behavior of monolayer-protected clusters in combination with their stability and tunability of properties has led to intense research, motivated not only by curiosity but also by the potential of these materials for applications in fields such as sensing, drug delivery, imaging and catalysis.
In ClusCAT we have three main research focus/lines with synergy between them:
Design, synthesis and characterisation of new metals monolayer protected clusters: We aim to create new monometallic metal clusters beyond gold and bimetallic doped Au clusters of metals with interesting properties for catalysis.
Understand the cluster-surface interaction and create functionalized desired surfaces by Ligand Exchange Reactions: new functionalization and properties can be induced to the cluster by ligand exchange reactions, normally performed in liquid phase. Our aim is to go one step further to perform the ligand exchange reactions once the clusters are immobilized on surfaces. Within this process we expect to understand the interaction of the cluster to the surface and also be able to functionalize the supported clusters, creating a surface with define properties and truly homogeneous.
Catalytic Activity Studies on supported monolayer protected clusters: These atomically precise nanoclusters can provide fundamental understanding of metal nanocatalysis, representing the optimal configuration for in situ spectroscopic mechanism studies. In this sense, first understanding of the cluster-surface interaction and stability under different conditions represents the research line, for their application in different catalytic processes.