FeOx-supported platinum single-atom and pseudo-single-atom catalysts for chemoselective hydrogenation of functionalized nitroarenes

  • Nature Communications 5, Article number: 5634 (2014)
  • doi:10.1038/ncomms6634
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The catalytic hydrogenation of nitroarenes is an environmentally benign technology for the production of anilines, which are key intermediates for manufacturing agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and dyes. Most of the precious metal catalysts, however, suffer from low chemoselectivity when one or more reducible groups are present in a nitroarene molecule. Herein we report FeOx-supported platinum single-atom and pseudo-single-atom structures as highly active, chemoselective and reusable catalysts for hydrogenation of a variety of substituted nitroarenes. For hydrogenation of 3-nitrostyrene, the catalyst yields a TOF of ~1,500 h−1, 20-fold higher than the best result reported in literature, and a selectivity to 3-aminostyrene close to 99%, the best ever achieved over platinum group metals. The superior performance can be attributed to the presence of positively charged platinum centres and the absence of Pt–Pt metallic bonding, both of which favour the preferential adsorption of nitro groups.

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We are grateful to the National Science Foundation of China (21176235, 21203182, 21202163, 21303194 and 21373206), the Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Hundred Talents Program of Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics for the financial supports. We also thank Professor Yuying Huang (14W of Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility in China) for his great help in the EXAFS experiment. J.L. acknowledges the start-up fund of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences of Arizona State University and the use of facilities in the John M. Cowley Center for High Resolution Electron Microscopy at Arizona State University.

Author information

Author notes

    • Haisheng Wei
    •  & Xiaoyan Liu

    These authors contributed equally to this work


  1. Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemistry for Energy Materials, State Key Laboratory of Catalysis, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 457 Zhongshan Road, Dalian 116023, China

    • Haisheng Wei
    • , Xiaoyan Liu
    • , Aiqin Wang
    • , Leilei Zhang
    • , Botao Qiao
    • , Xiaofeng Yang
    • , Yanqiang Huang
    • , Shu Miao
    • , Jingyue Liu
    •  & Tao Zhang
  2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

    • Haisheng Wei
  3. Department of Physics, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287, USA

    • Botao Qiao
    •  & Jingyue Liu


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H.W. performed the catalyst preparation, characterizations and catalytic tests. X.L. and L.Z. performed measurements and data analyses of EXAFS. J.L. and S.M. conducted the STEM examinations and contributed to writing the STEM sections. B.Q., X.Y. and Y.H. helped the catalyst preparation and characterization, and discussed the result. A.W. and T.Z. conceived the idea, designed the study, analysed the data and co-wrote the paper. All the authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Aiqin Wang or Jingyue Liu or Tao Zhang.

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    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1-14 and Supplementary Tables 1-5


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