Dendrimer-encapsulated metal nanoparticles: synthesis, characterization, and applications to catalysis
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The research in this dissertation examines the chemistry and applications of dendrimers in homogeneous catalysis. We examined interactions between dendrimers and charged probe molecules, prepared dendrimer-encapsulated metal nanoparticles in organic solvents, studied size-selectivity of dendrimer-encapsulted catalysts, and designed molecular rulers as in-situ probes to measure the location of dendrimer-encapsulted metal nanoparticles. The intrinsic proton binding constant and a constant that characterizes the strength of electrostatic interactions among occupied binding sites in poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimers have been obtained by studying the effect of solution pH on the protonation of the dendrimers. The significant finding is that these two factors are greatly modulated by the unique and hydrophobic microenvironment in the dendrimer interior. Hydrophilic poly(propylene imine) (PPI) dendrimers were modified with various hydrophobic alkyl chains through an amide linkage and were then used as templates for preparing intradendrimer copper nanoclusters. The main driving force for encapsulating metal-ions was found to be the differences in metal-ion solubility between the solvent and the interior of the dendrimer. Nanometer-sized metal particles are synthesized and encapsulated into the interior of dendrimers by first mixing together the dendrimer and metal ion solution and then reducing the composite chemically, and the resulting dendrimer-encapsulated metal nanoparticles can then be used as catalysts. By controlling the packing density on the dendrimer periphery using either different dendrimer generations or dendrimer surface functionalities, it is possible to control access of substrates to the encapsulated catalytic nanoparticle. Molecular rulers consisting of a large molecular "stopper", a reactive probe and a linker were designed as in-situ probes for determining the average distance between the surface of dendrimer-encapsulated palladium nanoparticles and the periphery of their fourth-generation, hydroxyl-terminated PAMAM dendrimer hosts. By doing so, we avoid having to make assumptions about the nanoparticle size and shape. The results suggest that the surface of the encapsulated nanoparticle is situated 0.7 ± 0.2 nm from the surface of the dendrimer.
Niu, Yanhui (2003). Dendrimer-encapsulated metal nanoparticles: synthesis, characterization, and applications to catalysis. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from