Nanoparticle synthesis and self-assembly: Tailoring supraparticles for catalysis

Nanoparticle self-assembly offers a promising new approach for preparation of heterogenous catalyst with high precision and great synthesis control. The precisely designed catalysts are extremely suitable for systematic catalyst optimization and allows to tailor the ideal catalyst particle.

Heterogenous catalysts are important for the production of every day life products like chemicals ranging from plastics to pharmaceuticals and energy. Learning how to improve these catalyst materials enables for optimization of the current processes. It is therefore important to study catalysts in detail. The work of this project focuses on the controlled design of catalytic materials with nanometer-precision. To achieve this goal, self-assembly of well-defined nanoparticles is used. The main advantage of this self-assembly approach, with respect to conventional catalyst preparation methods, is the outstanding control over size, location and distribution of the nanoparticles within the self-assembled catalyst particle, so-called supraparticle.

Within this project we synthesize nanoparticles of various sizes, shapes and composition (amongst others Silica and Ni-Pd), and self-assembly these nanoparticles in supraparticle structures. The resulting supraparticles consist of ordered nanoparticles with an interconnected 3D mesoporous network in-between the nanoparticles. The obtained mesoporous supraparticles serve as templates for the preparation of mesoporous graphene, and for the creation of heterogeneous catalysts by impregnation of mesoporous silica supraparticles. Ultimately, the self-assembly approach is used to prepare binary supraparticles composed of two different nanoparticle building blocks (catalyst support material and catalytic nanoparticles), to further enhance the controlled design of catalyst materials.