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Microfluidic preparation of a highly active and stable catalyst by high performance of encapsulation of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)-Pt nanoparticles in microcapsules

Nam, Jin-Oh, Kim, Jongmin, Jin, Si Hyung, Chung, Young-Min, Lee, Chang-Soo
Journal of colloid and interface science 2016 v.464 pp. 246-253
catalysts, catalytic activity, droplets, emulsions, encapsulation, hydrogenation, leaching, metals, nanoparticles, p-nitrophenol, polyvinylpyrrolidone
The encapsulation of active metals in microcapsules would be highly advantageous in maintaining or improving the reaction performance of an array of widely used chemical reactions. However, conventional methods suffer from low uniformity, complicated fabrication steps, sintering, leaching, decline of catalytic activity, and/or poor reusability. Here, we report an efficient microfluidic approach to encapsulate Pt nanoparticle stabilized by polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) in photocurable double-emulsion droplets with semipermeable thin shells. The encapsulated catalysts are prepared by the in situ photopolymerization of a double emulsion. The rapid and exquisite microfluidics-based fabrication process successfully generates monodisperse microcapsules without loss of the PVP-Pt nanoparticles, which is the first demonstration of the microfluidic encapsulation of active metal with promising catalytic activity. Specifically, compared to quasi-homogeneous catalysis of PVP-Pt nanoparticles for 4-nitrophenol hydrogenation, the encapsulated PVP-Pt nanoparticles demonstrate excellent catalytic activity, a leaching-proof nature, and high reusability under the same reaction conditions. We envision that the approach described here may be an example of elegant catalyst design to efficiently overcome difficult problems in active-metal encapsulation and to dramatically enhance catalytic activity by taking advantage of the unique aspects of microfluidic methods.