Nanoparticles and molecular clusters exhibit characteristics and properties different from that of the bulk.  Consequently the potential for applications in medicine, nanotechnology and catalysis is of great interests.  For example, it has been found that catalytic activity of gold nanoparticles (NP) is directly proportional to their size [1].  Specifically catalytic activity diminishes as particles grow beyond 10 nm [2-5].  Therefore size-selected nanoparticles play an important role in catalysis [6].  Besides experimental approaches many theoretical studies on the catalytic properties of metal nanoclusters have been the focus of attention in the past two decades [7-10].  Nanoparticles can be prepared by electron sputtering and evaporation.  These techniques are costly and therefore not commercially scalable.  Another technique for preparing these NP is by using ligands in solution.  This solution-based technique provides a more viable and sustainable approach.  Since these particles have great potential to be used as catalysts, it is important to develop a methodology that can be scalable.  Therefore the ligand in solution approach is the most promising one.  Also, it has been shown theoretically [9, 11-12] and experimentally [13] that the use of different ligands during synthesis are key in tailoring the size of gold clusters.

In collaboration with Dr. Grant Johnson at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory we have been working on the synthesis and characterization of these noble metal nanoparticles. Our research employs electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and computational chemistry [14, 15].


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  14. Parrish, M. king, M. Ligare, G.E. Johnson and H. Hernandez* (2019). Role of sterics in phosphine-ligated gold clusters. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2019. 21, 1689 doi:10.1039/C8CP04961K
  15. M. A. Hewitt, H. Hernandez* and G.E. Johnson*. (2020) Light Exposure Promotes Degradation of Intermediates and Growth of Phosphine-Ligated Gold Clusters. J. Phys. Chem. C.