Chemistry

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Science  26 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6008, pp. 1157
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6008.1157-b

Adsorption of gold nanoparticles to titania surfaces has proven a promising approach to extending the photocatalytic properties of a semiconductor from the ultraviolet into the visible regime. Ide et al. explored a variation on this motif in which they expanded the layer spacing of a potassium lithium titanate sample by inserting alkane thiols and then reductively assembling gold nanoparticles between them. They deduced by electron microscopy that the solid contained intercalated gold disks less than 1 nm thick and about 3.5 nm wide. They then monitored the capacity of the assembled material to selectively oxidize benzene to phenol in water upon visible irradiation (at wavelengths exceeding 420 nm) at room temperature. Although the catalysts adsorbed benzene, they initially showed little selective activity. However, when phenol was added at the outset, the product enhanced its own formation pathway: Photoactivity increased substantially to a net phenol yield of 62% at a selectivity of 96%.

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 132, 10.1021/ja1083514 (2010).

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