Prof Graham Hutchings - FLSW FRS
- The study of gold nanocrystals as novel active heterogeneous catalysts and their characterisation.
- The design of selective oxidation and hydrogenation catalysts and their study using in situ spectroscopy.
- The design of enantioselective heterogeneous catalysts, in particular using chirally modified zeolite catalysts
Supported gold and gold palladium alloy catalysts have been found to be particularly effective for a number of selective oxidation reactions. Supporting gold on graphite or activated carbon makes catalysts that can oxidise alkenes with molecular oxygen under mild conditions. New gold palladium catalysts have been designed that can be used under inherently safe, non-explosive conditions. The gold palladium nanocrystals have been found to have both core shell structure as well as being homogenous alloys and can give exceptionally high rates of synthesis (>900 mol H2O2/Kg catalyst/h) without making water as a by-product. The same catalysts have been shown to be equally effective for the oxidation of primary alcohols using oxygen under mild solvent-free conditions. We have found that benzyl alcohol can be oxidesed using oxygen under mild reaction conditions (100-160°C) in the absence of solvent to give benzaldehyde in high selectivity will a yield of over 90%. Other alcohols can also be reacted and, in particular, primary alcohols, which are normally very unreactive can readily be oxidised. This work is being extended to new oxidation target reactions, including hydrocarbon oxidation.