Understanding how to moderate and improve the performance of adsorbents and catalysts is critical for both basic and applied research. The advances in nanoscience have generated new opportunities in the field of materials synthesis, including tuning the size of free nanoparticles. Notwithstanding this success, supported nanoparticles exhibit several advantages against free nanoparticles such as ease in recovery of spent materials. The effectiveness of nanocomposites is affected by the properties of both the nanoparticles and the substrate. This study will investigate innovative and facile routes for nanocomposites synthesis and their activity towards heterogeneous non-catalytic and catalytic reactions. The model reactions of interest are (but not limited to) Hg-Ag amalgamation, AgI precipitation and 4-nitrophenol reduction. Candidate substrates are amorphous silica, zeolites and alumina and the nanoparticles of interest are those of noble metals such as Ag, Au and low cost alternatives i.e. Co. The research will look at two related phenomena, namely hyperactivity and hyperstoichiometry. Hyperactivity, is the enhancement of reactivity in terms of increased reaction rate, it has been studied but how the reactivity scales with the supported nanoparticles size is a complex phenomenon open for research. Hyperstoichiometry, is the phenomenon where the observed reacted amounts exceed those predicted by the stoichiometry of the reaction, has been rarely observed and scarcely published. Thus, this project offers excellent opportunities for innovation with many practical applications in water treatment and other industries.
In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.
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