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Press ReleasePress Release 2017

Novel Porous Rhodium Catalysts

- Technology for Precisely Designing Porous Particles May Lead to More Effective Use of Rare Metals -

17 May, 2017
(19 May, 2017 Update)

An international team of researchers comprised of a NIMS research group and other research institutes in Japan and overseas has succeeded in developing rhodium nanomaterials with uniform nanopores (mesoporous rhodium) using polymeric templates.

(“Mesoporous metallic rhodium nanoparticles”; Bo Jiang, Cuiling Li, Ömer Dag, Hideki Abe, Toshiaki Takei, Tsubasa Imai, Md. Shahriar A. Hossain, Md. Tofazzal Islam, Kathleen Wood, Joel Henzie & Yusuke Yamauchi; Nature Communications 8, Article number: 15581 (2017); doi:10.1038/ncomms15581)

A research group led by Joel Henzie (a senior researcher in the Mesoscale Materials Chemistry Group), MANA, NIMS, and Yusuke Yamauchi (Group leader of the Mesoscale Materials Chemistry Group; also a professor at the University of Wollongong in Australia) as well as other research institutes in Japan and overseas jointly succeeded in developing rhodium nanomaterials with uniform nanopores (mesoporous rhodium) using polymeric templates.

Nanomaterials containing an array of nano-sized pores have large surface area-to-volume ratios. They have been actively researched and developed due to their potential as catalytic and adsorption materials, offering sites for novel chemical reactions. Various forms of porous materials, such as metal organic framworks (or porous coordination polymers), mesoporous silica and zeolites have been previously reported. In particular, nanoporous materials with metal frameworks have great potential for totally new applications.

Rhodium is an industrially important chemical element, as it has been used as a catalyst in automobile exhaust gas purification due to its high nitric oxide (NO) reduction activity compared to other metals. Because rhodium is relatively scarce and expensive, many research projects focus on maximizing its catalytic activity.

In this research project, we formed spherical micelles (molecular assemblies) of uniform size by adjusting the concentrations of polymers with both hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties (amphiphilic block polymers) in a dilute solution. We then allowed rhodium ions to undergo chemical reductions in the presence of the spherical micelles—which functioned as templates—under precisely controlled conditions. As a result, we succeeded in forming nanoporous rhodium particles with pore sizes corresponding to the sizes of the micelle templates used.

The resulting mesoporous rhodium exhibited NO reduction activity superior to that of commercially available rhodium catalysts, and high electrocatalytic activity for methanol oxidation reactions. Current catalyst design concepts have not adopted the technique of increasing catalytic activity by forming nanopores in metals. However, this study demonstrated that this technique may be applicable in various fields related to catalytic and adsorption materials.

This research was was published in the online version of the British scientific journal Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15581) at 6:00 pm on May 19, 2017, Japan Time (10:00 am on May 19, local time).

Figure: Process of mesoporous rhodium synthesis

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Yusuke Yamauchi
Mesoscale Materials Chemistry Group, MANA, NIMS

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