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Published on : Apr 17, 2019

Researchers of NIST have explored a new breed of catalysts that allow to initiate some chemical reactions at room temperature. Researchers believe that these catalysts can start chemical reactions which usually require large amount of heat even at room temperature. These energy saving catalysts use sunlight to excite localized surface plasmons oscillations. The energy derived from the oscillation initiates chemical reaction among the molecules which comply with nanoparticles 

In previous studies, scientists show LSP oscillation energy can break molecular hydrogen into its individual atoms. Now, researchers have explored a second LSP catalytic reaction that occurs at room temperature. It was because of LSP oscillation in gold nanoparticles, scientists were able to split carbon monoxide molecules into carbon and carbon dioxide. Usually, without these new catalysts, this reaction requires a temperature of 400 degrees C at least to complete. 

How Researchers Explored these New Catalysts?

To support their discovery, scientist relied upon solid deposits of carbon as the indicators for precise location on gold nanoparticle where reaction took place. Instead of sunlight, scientists used electron beam to perform this experiment. They found that the reaction was condensed at the intersection of carbon monoxide and gold nanoparticles. Also, at the places where the amplitude of the electric field related to LSPs was highest.

Scientists can now explore other systems that directly harness sunlight to generate LSPs in nanoparticles at room temperature. Further, scientists are looking forward to developing systems that can reduce energy consumption and have a positive impact on the industry and environment.