Gold nanoparticles help make industrial dyes

8650lngroupA new environmentally friendly way to produce certain industrial dyes using gold nanoparticle catalysts has been developed by researchers in Spain.  Normally,  making dyes known as azobenzenes requires toxic transition metals or nitrates.

Avelino Corma and colleagues of the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia have shown that gold nanoparticles on titanium dioxide or cerium dioxide can catalyse the reactions necessary to produce azobenzenes. And this is with above 98% efficiency under mild reaction conditions. The technique could be used to make cheaper, safer dyes for use in pigments, food additives and drugs, say the researchers.

Corma says that the work could provide an environmentally friendly route to make industrial amounts of azo-compounds for dye manufacture. “We now need to do more work to better understand the mechanism and the exact nature of the catalyst active sites and improve yields for these asymmetric azo-materials.”

The work was published in Science.

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