Engineering noble metal nanomaterials for environmental applications
Besides being valuable assets in our daily lives, noble metals (namely, gold, silver, and platinum) also feature many intriguing physical and chemical properties when their sizes are reduced to the nano- or even subnano-scale; such assets may significantly increase the values of the noble metals as functional materials for tackling important societal issues related to human health and the environment. Among which, designing/engineering of noble metal nanomaterials (NMNs) to address challenging issues in the environment has attracted recent interest in the community. In general, the use of NMNs for environmental applications is highly dependent on the physical and chemical properties of NMNs. Such properties can be readily controlled by tailoring the attributes of NMNs, including their size, shape, composition, and surface. In this feature article, we discuss recent progress in the rational design and engineering of NMNs with particular focus on their applications in the field of environmental sensing and catalysis. The development of functional NMNs for environmental applications is highly interdisciplinary, which requires concerted efforts from the communities of materials science, chemistry, engineering, and environmental science.