Toward the creation of high-performance heterogeneous catalysts by controlled ligand desorption from atomically precise metal nanoclusters
Ligand-protected metal nanoclusters controlled by atomic accuracy (i. e. atomically precise metal NCs) have recently attracted considerable attention as active sites in heterogeneous catalysts. Using these atomically precise metal NCs, it becomes possible to create novel heterogeneous catalysts based on a size-specific electronic/geometrical structure of metal NCs and understand the mechanism of the catalytic reaction easily. However, to create high-performance heterogeneous catalysts using atomically precise metal NCs, it is often necessary to remove the ligands from the metal NCs. This review summarizes previous studies on the creation of heterogeneous catalysts using atomically precise metal NCs while focusing on the calcination as a ligand-elimination method. Through this summary, we intend to share state-of-art techniques and knowledge on (1) experimental conditions suitable for creating high-performance heterogeneous catalysts (e.g., support type, metal NC type, ligand type, and calcination temperature), (2) the mechanism of calcination, and (3) the mechanism of catalytic reaction over the created heterogeneous catalyst. We also discuss (4) issues that should be addressed in the future toward the creation of high-performance heterogeneous catalysts using atomically precise metal NCs. The knowledge and issues described in this review are expected to lead to clear design guidelines for the creation of novel heterogeneous catalysts.