The ability of Au catalysts to effect the challenging task of utilizing molecular oxygen for the selective epoxidation of cyclooctene is fascinating. Although supported nanometre-size Au particles are poorly active, here we show that solubilized atomic Au clusters, present in ng ml-1 concentrations and stabilized by ligands derived from the oxidized hydrocarbon products, are active. They can be formed from various Au sources. They generate initiators and propagators to trigger the onset of the auto-oxidation reaction with an apparent turnover frequency of 440s-1, and continue to generate additional initiators throughout the auto-oxidation cycle without direct participation in the cycle. Spectroscopic characterization suggests that 7-8 atom clusters are effective catalytically. Extension of work based on these understandings leads to the demonstration that these Au clusters are also effective in selective oxidation of cyclohexene, and that solubilized Pt clusters are also capable of generating initiators for cyclooctene epoxidation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology