Seedless, surfactantless and support-free unprotected, metallic, interconnected nano-chain networks of ruthenium nanoparticles (NPs) were successfully synthesized via the reduction of ruthenium(iii) chloride (RuCl3) with sodium borohydride (NaBH4) at three different temperatures, viz. 30 °C, 45 °C and 60 °C. The molar ratio of RuCl3 solution and borohydride was optimized to be 1:1.5 to produce stable colloids with the optimum final solution pH of 9.7 ± 0.2. Average diameters of the interconnected nano-chain networks prepared at 30 °C (Ru-30), 45 °C (Ru-45) and 60 °C (Ru-60) were 3.5 ± 0.5 nm, 3.0 ± 0.2 nm and 2.6 ± 0.2 nm respectively. The morphology and composition dependent catalytic and electrocatalytic activities of these unprotected Ru nano-chain networks (Ru-30, Ru-45 and Ru-60) were studied in detail. The catalysis study was performed by investigating the transfer hydrogenation of several substituted aromatic nitro compounds. It was observed that Ru-60 was relatively more active compared to Ru-30 and Ru-45, which was reflected in their rate constant values. The electrocatalytic activities of Ru-30, Ru-45 and Ru-60 were screened for anodic water splitting in alkaline medium (0.1 M NaOH) and it was found that all of them showed almost the same activity which required an over-voltage of 308 ± 2 mV to obtain an anodic current density of 10 mA cm-2. The catalytic and electrocatalytic performances of these unprotected Ru0 networks were compared with Ru0 nanomaterials prepared under similar conditions with three different surfactants, viz. CTAB, SDS and TX-100, which revealed that unprotected Ru0 networks are better catalysts than those stabilized with surfactants. The superior catalytic and electrocatalytic performance is due to the availability of unprotected Ru0 surfaces. The present route may provide a new possibility of synthesizing other surfactant-free, unprotected metal colloids for enhanced catalytic and electrocatalytic applications.
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