Au nanoparticles in carbon nanotubes with high photocatalytic activity for hydrocarbon selective oxidation
High-efficiency and high-selectivity catalytic oxidation of alkanes under mild conditions with air is a major aim of current catalytic chemistry and chemical production. Despite extensive development efforts on new catalysts for cyclohexane oxidation, current commercial processes still suffer from low conversion, poor selectivity, and excessive production of waste. Here, we present the design and synthesis of gold nanoparticle/carbon nanotube (CNT) composites for high-efficiency and high-selectivity photocatalyst systems for the green oxidation of cyclohexane. Remarkably, Au nanoparticles confined in carbon nanotubes (Au-in-CNTs) are photocatalytically active for the oxidation of cyclohexane with 14.64% conversion of cyclohexane and a high selectivity of 86.88% of cyclohexanol using air and visible light at room temperature. Given its diversity and versatility of structural and composition design, gold nanoparticle/CNT composites may provide a powerful pathway for the development of high-performance catalysts and production processes for green chemical industry.