Selective hydrogenation of nitriles is an industrially relevant synthetic route for the preparation of primary amines. Amorphous metal–boron alloys have a tunable, glass-like structure that generates a high concentration of unsaturated metal surface atoms that serve as active sites in hydrogenation reactions. Here, a method to create nanoparticles composed of mesoporous 3D networks of amorphous nickel–boron (Ni-B) alloy is reported. The hydrogenation of benzyl cyanide to β-phenylethylamine is used as a model reaction to assess catalytic performance. The mesoporous Ni-B alloy spheres have a turnover frequency value of 11.6 h−1, which outperforms non-porous Ni-B spheres with the same composition. The bottom-up synthesis of mesoporous transition metal–metalloid alloys expands the possible reactions that these metal architectures can perform while simultaneously incorporating more Earth-abundant catalysts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)