Biosynthesis of metal nanoparticles has gained much attention due to the presence of readily available, environmentally benign materials that minimize the use of chemical additives and can avoid poisonous by-products.

As reported recently in the journal Nanotechnology, the researchers have prepared palladium nanoparticles by biosynthesis. p-nitrotoluene hydrogenation was used as a test bed to investigate the particles' catalytic activity.

The particles ranged from 3 to 5 nm, with a narrow size distribution and good dispersion properties. The researchers found that the antioxidants in the plant besides functioning as reductants and stabilizers, were also was beneficial in other ways.

As some of the antioxidants are polyhydroxy compounds-crocins and crocetin, interacting with the solvent isopropanol, they provided good conditions for the rotation of the metal catalysts and enabled sufficient contact between the catalysts and p-nitrotoluene. The particles were not restricted to the support surface and offered more active sites.

The stabilization of the antioxidants was appropriate, and the novel supports made the catalyst highly efficient. Therefore, the biosynthetic product is expected to open up more applications in industrial catalysis.

About the author

Lishan Jia and Qingbiao Li are professors in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Xiamen University, China. Qian Zhang and Hong Song are students in Jia’s group. Jia’s group focuses its research on nanocatalysis.