Mesoporous SBA-15 supported gold nanoparticles for solvent-free oxidation of cyclohexane: superior catalytic activity with higher cyclohexanone selectivity†
Surface modification of mesoporous SBA-15 with (3-mercaptopropyl) trimethoxysilane greatly enhances its capability to adsorb the tetrachloroauric anion (AuCl4−). The calcination of the sample after the adsorption experiment led to the generation of homogeneously dispersed, spherical, single crystalline gold nanoparticles (Au0 NPs) of less than 5 nm size, embedded on SBA-15 as observed from the TEM images. The as-prepared SBA-15/Au0 nanohybrid material has offered excellent catalytic activity for the selective oxidation of cyclohexane using TBHP as the oxidant in the absence of any solvent. A maximum of 48.7% cyclohexane conversion was achieved and surprisingly, cyclohexanone (K) has much higher selectivity (>95%) than cyclohexanol (A). The hot-filtration study confirmed the leach-resistant characteristics as well as the true heterogeneous catalytic activity of the SBA-15/Au0 nanohybrid catalyst. The catalyst was recycled up to four times without significant loss in its catalytic activity.