Tuning the electronic structure of heterogeneous metal catalysts has emerged as an effective strategy to optimize their catalytic activities. By preparing ethylenediamine-coated ultrathin platinum nanowires as a model catalyst, here we demonstrate an interfacial electronic effect induced by simple organic modifications to control the selectivity of metal nanocatalysts during catalytic hydrogenation. This we apply to produce thermodynamically unfavourable but industrially important compounds, with ultrathin platinum nanowires exhibiting an unexpectedly high selectivity for the production of N-hydroxylanilines, through the partial hydrogenation of nitroaromatics. Mechanistic studies reveal that the electron donation from ethylenediamine makes the surface of platinum nanowires highly electron rich. During catalysis, such an interfacial electronic effect makes the catalytic surface favour the adsorption of electron-deficient reactants over electron-rich substrates (that is, N-hydroxylanilines), thus preventing full hydrogenation. More importantly, this interfacial electronic effect, achieved through simple organic modifications, may now be used for the optimization of commercial platinum catalysts.
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We thank the MOST of China (2015CB932303), the NSFC (21420102001, 21131005, 21390390, 21333008, 21373167, 21133004), IRT_14R31, and the NFFTBS (J1210014) for the financial support. We thank Y. P. Zheng for help with XPS measurements, S. Q. Wei for preliminary XAS tests, Y. Ding and Z. L. Wang for preliminary HRTEM measurements. We also thank L. S. Zheng, Z. Q. Tian, L. W. Ye., M. S. Chen, B. Ren, J. F. Li, P. Zhang, Y. Zhao, J. Yang and P. N. Duchesne for helpful discussions.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Chen, G., Xu, C., Huang, X. et al. Interfacial electronic effects control the reaction selectivity of platinum catalysts. Nature Mater 15, 564–569 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4555
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