Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and metal nanoparticles are two classes of materials that have received considerable recent attention, each for controlling chemical reactivities, albeit in very different ways. Here, we report the growth of MOF shell layers surrounding aluminum nanocrystals (Al NCs), an Earth-abundant metal with energetic, plasmonic, and photocatalytic properties. The MOF shell growth proceeds by means of dissolution-and-growth chemistry that uses the intrinsic surface oxide of the NC to obtain the Al 3+ ions accommodated into the MOF nodes. Changes in the Al NC plasmon resonance provide an intrinsic optical probe of its dissolution and growth kinetics. This same chemistry enables a highly controlled oxidation of the Al NCs, providing a precise method for reducing NC size in a shape-preserving manner. The MOF shell encapsulation of the Al NCs results in increased efficiencies for plasmon-enhanced photocatalysis, which is observed for the hydrogen-deuterium exchange and reverse water-gas shift reactions.
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