Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemical Engineering

Document Type



Supported Au catalysts have been studied extensively for CO oxidation. These catalysts are known to catalyze this reaction even at sub-ambient temperatures. While recent literature demonstrates catalytic activity of gold nanoparticles <2 nm, the next stage in fine tuning this catalysis process is to develop gold clusters prepared with atomic precision. Such atomically precise gold catalysts supported on TiO2 hitherto have not been investigated for CO oxidation. The main objective of this work is to synthesize atomically-precise Au38 clusters in a flask-based method using principles of wet chemistry, to characterize these clusters using various advanced spectroscopic techniques, and to test these clusters as potential catalytic materials for CO oxidation. Furthermore, we have tested TiO2-supported Au38 clusters and a commercially purchased Au/TiO2 catalyst for CO oxidation at 30 °C and 60 °C, and used DRIFTS as a probe spectroscopic technique to correlate kinetics with the mechanism occurring on the surface of both catalysts in order to device the mechanistic pathways for CO oxidation. The work reported in this dissertation is the first spectroscopic observation of the phenomena where sulfur may have beneficial effect on the catalytic activity of Au/TiO2 catalysts. Such an interesting observation where sulfur has beneficial effect on catalytic activity of Au/TiO2 catalysts has never been observed in the past. We have also synthesized and tested Fe3O4@Au core-shell nanoparticles supported on TiO2 for CO oxidation. We show for the first time that, core-shell type nanogold catalysts are better suited compared to pure gold nanoparticles for heterogeneous gas phase catalysis of CO oxidation. By conducting comprehensive experiments towards understanding CO oxidation catalysis using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and temperature programmed reduction, we show that the enhanced catalytic activity is due to a combination of factors ranging from synergistic interaction between Au and Fe, complete removal of organic capping ligands and the presence of metallic gold (Au0) in the active catalyst.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

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Committee Chair

Spivey, James J.