Au@zirconium-phosphonate nanoparticles as an effective catalytic system for the chemoselective and switchable reduction of nitroarenes†
In the present paper, a novel inorganic–organic layered material, a zirconium phosphate aminoethyl phosphonate, ZP(AEP), bearing aminoethyl groups on the layer surface, was used to immobilize AuNPs by a two-step procedure. The gold-based catalyst, Au1@ZP(AEP), containing 1 wt% Au, was characterized in terms of physico-chemical properties and TEM analysis revealed that the AuNPs have a spherical shape and an average size of 7.8 (±2.4) nm. Au1@ZP(AEP) proved its high efficiency for the chemoselective reduction of nitroarenes under mild conditions. Both batch and flow condition protocols have been defined. The catalytic system has been proven to be able to easily switch chemoselectivity allowing the control of the reduction of a series of nitroaromatics towards their corresponding azoxyarenes (2a–k) or anilines (2a–l) in 96% EtOH or abs EtOH, respectively, by using NaBH4 as a reducing agent, in good to excellent yields. Recovery and reuse of the catalytic system has been investigated proving the benefits of the flow approach.