Journal of Catalysis, Vol.394, 113-120, 2021
Ligand effects in the stabilization of gold nanoparticles anchored on the surface of graphene: Implications in catalysis
Gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) functionalized with N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligands immobilized onto graphene are obtained via spontaneous decomposition of well-defined gold-NHC complexes by reduced graphene oxide (rGO) without reducing agents. NHC ligands are responsible for the formation of air stable, crystalline and small (3.0-4-0 nm) Au NPs homogeneously distributed on the surface of graphene. The catalytic properties of three Au NPs functionalized with different ligands were tested in two benchmark reactions (hydration of alkynes and intramolecular hydroamination of alkynes). The results reveal a pronounced ligand effect on the stability of Au NPs on graphene, by acting as a bridge between them. The Au NPs functionalized with a NHC ligand lacking a polyaromatic group or having a naphthyl tag displayed limited stability and fast deactivation in the first run. On the contrary, the Au NPs functionalized with a NHC ligand containing a pyrenyl handle showed superior catalytic activity and can be recycled at least ten times. The particle size of the Au NPs is preserved after the recycling process indicating a high stability. These results illustrate the use of purposely designed ligands having affinity for both Au NPs and graphene to increase the stability of the hybrid catalyst. (c) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.