Atomic origins of the high catalytic activity of nanoporous gold

Takeshi Fujita*, Pengfei Guan, Keith McKenna, Xingyou Lang, Akihiko Hirata, Ling Zhang, Tomoharu Tokunaga, Shigeo Arai, Yuta Yamamoto, Nobuo Tanaka, Yoshifumi Ishikawa, Naoki Asao, Yoshinori Yamamoto, Jonah Erlebacher, Mingwei Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

770 Citations (Scopus)


Distinct from inert bulk gold, nanoparticulate gold has been found to possess remarkable catalytic activity towards oxidation reactions. The catalytic performance of nanoparticulate gold strongly depends on size and support, and catalytic activity usually cannot be observed at characteristic sizes larger than 5ĝ‰nm. Interestingly, significant catalytic activity can be retained in dealloyed nanoporous gold (NPG) even when its feature lengths are larger than 30-nm. Here we report atomic insights of the NPG catalysis, characterized by spherical-aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and environmental TEM. A high density of atomic steps and kinks is observed on the curved surfaces of NPG, comparable to 3-5nm nanoparticles, which are stabilized by hyperboloid-like gold ligaments. In situ TEM observations provide compelling evidence that the surface defects are active sites for the catalytic oxidation of CO and residual Ag stabilizes the atomic steps by suppressing {111} faceting kinetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-780
Number of pages6
JournalNature Materials
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sept
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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