Ada Genavia
May 30, 2012

Gold dust paves the way for better and cheaper catalysts

Generally, gold is highly prize the large scale. However, scientists at the Vienna University of Technology are interested in gold at the smallest scale possible. Single gold atoms are potentially the most reactive catalysts for chemical reactions. However, when placed on a surface, gold atoms tend to ball up into tiny nuggets. The team at the university managed to fix single gold atoms on special sites of an iron-oxide surface. The key to success is a slight deformation of the iron-oxide crystal structure. This could open the door to more efficient catalysts, requiring less of the precious material. Gold is a noble metal and does not usually bond with other elements, but as a catalyst it greatly facilitates chemical reactions.