We are currently working on gold and silver clusters stabilised with biomolecules to investigate their catalytic activity in energy conversion and storage processes. While transition metal nanoparticles and films are utilised to catalyse a number of reactions, these materials inherently "waste" much of their volume as most catalysis can only happen at the surface of such materials. With this in mind, we have delved into the realm of cluster synthesis to generate such small catalysts (<50 atoms) that much more of the material is "active" compared to their larger counterparts. Additionally, many clusters have unique geometries and energy levels with the difference of one or two atoms, which also results in different catalytic activities. In this way, we use the building block nature of DNA and amino acids to tune specific binding environments, allowing us to synthesise a variety of clusters for specific catalytic targets.
Thomas Nann Research group
University of Newcastle, Australia
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand