Email Print Share

News Release 08-200

When A Good Nanoparticle Goes Bad

Understanding how nanoparticles change form may help solve energy needs

Clues found in nanoparticles may help solve global energy challenge.

Clues found in nanoparticles may help produce environmentally clean energy.


November 10, 2008

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Researchers at Cornell University recently made a major breakthrough when they invented a method to test and demonstrate a long-held hypothesis that some very, very small metal particles work much better than others in various chemical processes such as converting chemical energy to electricity in fuel cells or reducing automobile pollution.

The breakthrough, reported in this week's edition of the journal Nature Materials, also came with a surprise. By devising a way to watch individual molecules react with a single nanoscale particle of gold in real time, researchers confirmed that some gold particles are better at increasing the rate of a chemical reaction than others, but they also found that a good catalyst sometimes spontaneously turns bad.

Understanding why these particles change and how to stabilize the "good" particles may lead to solutions for a wide range of problems such as the current global energy challenge.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email: bmixon@nsf.gov

Program Contacts
Rama Bansil, NSF, (703) 292-8562, email: rbansil@nsf.gov
Z. Charles Ying, NSF, (703) 292-8428, email: cying@nsf.gov
Thomas P. Rieker, NSF, (703) 292-4914, email: trieker@nsf.gov

Principal Investigators
Peng Chen, Cornell University, (607) 254-8533, email: pc252@cornell.edu

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Connect with us online
NSF website: nsf.gov
NSF News: nsf.gov/news
For News Media: nsf.gov/news/newsroom
Statistics: nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards database: nsf.gov/awardsearch/

Follow us on social
Twitter: twitter.com/NSF and twitter.com/NSFspox
Facebook: facebook.com/US.NSF
Instagram: instagram.com/nsfgov