Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

Vinay K. Gupta

Co-Major Professor

Babu Joseph


cobalt, nanoparticles


In this doctoral dissertation, novel colloidal routes were used to synthesize nanomaterials with unique features. We have studied the impact of nanoparticle size of catalyst, role of high surface area of a photocatalyst, and the effect of varying elemental composition of co-catalytic nanoparticles in combination with core-shell plasmonic nanoparticles. We have demonstrated how physical and chemical characteristics of nanomaterials with these unique features play a role in catalytic reactions, specifically the oxidation of CO and the photoreduction of CO2. The first objective of this doctoral dissertation involved the preparation of CoO nanoparticles with discrete nanoparticles sizes (1-14 nm) using a colloidal thermal decomposition technique. The impact of size of CoO for CO oxidation reaction was studied using an in-situ FTIR reactor. By analyzing the reaction intermediates observed using in-situ IR, a two-step reaction mechanism was proposed. The average values of activation energies of step-1 and step-2 were ∼15 kJ/mol and ∼90 kJ/mol that showed step-2 was the rate determining step. From activation energy calculations for the catalysts of different CoO sizes, it was found that activation energy increased as nanoparticle size increased. The second objective of this doctoral research involved the development of high surface area TiO2 nanoshells using polymeric templates. The deposition of TiO2 was achieved by surface functionalization procedures. TiO2 was then deposited on colloidal SiO2 after the SiO2 surface was modified by grafting poly(NIPAAM) oligomers. TiO2 nanoshell composites possessed high surface of ∼35 m2/gm. The photocatalytic performances of TiO2 nanoshells and Pt deposited TiO2 nanoshells were evaluated for CO2 photoreduction reaction. Primary products from CO2 photoreduction reactions were carbon monoxide and methane. The product yield and product selectivity of hydrocarbons produced during CO2 photoreduction was measured using a home-built FTIR reactor. When Pt was deposited on TiO2 nanoshells, the overall yield was nearly doubled and the CH4 selectivity nearly quadrupled. The third objective pursued in this research project was to synthesize Ag, Pt and bimetallic Ag-Pt nanoparticles to demonstrate the role of elemental composition of metal co-catalysts for CO2 photoreduction reaction. The novel bimetallic nanoparticles played an important role in improving product selectivity in the photocatalytic reduction of CO2. Bimetallic Ag-Pt nanoparticles synthesized with low Pt content had 4-5 times higher CH4 selectivity compared to native TiO2. The final objective was to prepare Ag(core)/SiO2(shell) nanoparticles with specific core-shell structure to enhance photoactivity of TiO2 during catalytic reactions. Ag@SiO2 core-shell nanoparticles have plasmonic character that helped to improve product yield by increasing the number of electron-hole pair generations. When bimetallic Ag-Pt nanoparticles were used in combination with core-shell Ag@SiO2 plasmonic nanoparticles, the overall yield increased ∼8-fold compared to native TiO2.