ONE Lab is moving to KAUST

We're happy to announce that ONE Lab is moving to KAUST to start a new chapter in our research program. We're grateful for the past ten years of exceptional scholarship and unwavering support from KAIST. We're excited to move into a new phase where adventures are waiting and discoveries to be made. Please note that we'll be using for our new website. To reach Prof. Yavuz, please email cafer.yavuz* or call +966-12-8080759

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Precious metal recovery from electronic waste by a porous porphyrin polymer

Y. Hong, D. Thirion, S. Subramanian, M. Yoo, H. Choi, H. Y. Kim, J. F. Stoddart*, C. T. Yavuz*
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 117 (28), 16174-16180 (2020).
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2000606117

Urban mining of precious metals from electronic waste, such as printed circuit boards (PCB), is not yet feasible because of the lengthy isolation process, health risks, and environmental impact. Although porous polymers are particularly effective toward the capture of metal contaminants, those with porphyrin linkers have not yet been considered for precious metal recovery, despite their potential. Here, we report a porous porphyrin polymer that captures precious metals quantitatively from PCB leachate even in the presence of 63 elements from the Periodic Table. The nanoporous polymer is synthesized in two steps from widely available monomers without the need for costly catalysts and can be scaled up without loss of activity. Through a reductive capture mechanism, gold is recovered with 10 times the theoretical limit, reaching a record 1.62 g/g. With 99% uptake taking place in the first 30 min, the metal adsorbed to the porous polymer can be desorbed rapidly and reused for repetitive batches. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations indicate that energetically favorable multinuclear-Au binding enhances adsorption as clusters, leading to rapid capture, while Pt capture remains predominantly at single porphyrin sites.

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Gold Recovery from E-Waste by Porous Porphyrin–Phenazine Network Polymers

T. S. Nguyen, Y. Hong, N. A. Dogan, C. T. Yavuz*
Chem. Mater., 32, 12, 5343–5349 (2020).
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.0c01734

Gold recovery from electronic waste could prevent excessive mining with toxic extractants and provide a sustainable path for recycling precious metals. Unfortunately, no viable recycling is practiced, except burning electronic circuit boards in underdeveloped countries, mainly because of the lack of chemical scavengers as adsorbents. Here, we report the synthesis of a family of porphyrin–phenazine-based polymers and their gold-capturing properties as well as application in gold recovery from actual e-waste. The polymers show high selectivity toward gold as well as other precious metals. The Au(III) adsorption isotherms were well-fitted to the Langmuir adsorption model and proportionality between porosity and uptake capacity was observed. Solution pH values and illumination conditions were shown to have influences on the performance of the adsorbents with the highest capacity of 1.354 g/g obtained in acidic pH and under continuous UV irradiation. Such a remarkable capacity of 7 times the theoretical estimate was achieved through photochemical adsorption–reduction mechanism supported by the observed suppressing effect of oxidant on gold-capturing ability. The adsorbents are robust and recyclable, a significant advantage over other emerging materials.
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Direct Z-Scheme Tannin–TiO2 Heterostructure for Photocatalytic Gold Ion Recovery from Electronic Waste

K. R. Kim, S. Choi, C. T. Yavuz, Y. S. Nam*
ACS Sustain. Chem. Eng., 8, 19, 7359–7370 (2020).
DOI: 10.1021/acsaem.0c00539

Precious-metal recovery from industrial wastewater has received considerable attention because of rapidly increasing amounts of electronic waste. Existing technologies have yet to be widely applied due to their high cost and low selectivity toward precious-metal ions. Herein, we report a direct Z-scheme tannin–TiO2 heterostructure for selective gold adsorption from electronic waste under solar irradiation. The tannin-coated TiO2 nanoparticles were prepared by a simple dipping method, and under light illumination, both tannin and TiO2 can serve as photosensitive components for the reduction of metal ions, with metal-to-ligand charge transfer from TiO2 to tannin extending the lifetime of the excited electrons. Moreover, no additional electron donors are required because the tannin layer scavenges the reactive oxygen species generated by the holes from the light-activated TiO2 surface. The heterostructure allows for the highly efficient photocatalytic recovery of gold ions, with 11 times higher adsorption capacity in the light compared to the dark. High selectivity toward gold ions was also demonstrated using a metal ion mixture including nine different metal ions that are commonly found in electronic waste. Our findings suggest that the Z-scheme heterostructure of polyphenol and semiconductor provides a promising photochemical pathway for efficient and selective metal ion recovery from electronic waste.
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Thien's paper got the cover image on Chemical Communications

Thien's paper on isoporous polymers for carbon capture got the cover image for the issue 31 of Chemical Communications 2020 volume. Click here to see the cover image. Congratulations! 
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Redox and Nonredox CO2 Utilization: Dry Reforming of Methane and Catalytic Cyclic Carbonate Formation

S. Subramanian, Y. Song, D. Kim, C. T. Yavuz*
ACS Energy Lett., 5, 5, 1689–1700 (2020). Invited Review
DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.0c00406

CO2 emissions are too large to tackle with a single process, but a combination of avoidance with chemical utilization may be able to slow global warming. In this Focus Review, we identify two large-scale CO2 conversion processes based on their viability and opposite energy requirements. In the high-energy, stationary path, CO2 reforming of methane could provide gigatons of CO2 utilization through synthesis gas. The main problem is the lack of a durable, effective, low-cost dry reforming catalyst. The exothermic cyclic carbonate formation from CO2 and organic epoxides offers a low-energy, mobile, nonredox route. The catalysts, however, must be metal-free and robust, have a high surface area, and be low-cost while being easily scalable. These two processes could potentially address at least a quarter of all current CO2 emissions.
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Triazatruxene-Based Ordered Porous Polymer: High Capacity CO2, CH4, and H2 Capture, Heterogeneous Suzuki–Miyaura Catalytic Coupling, and Thermoelectric Properties

A. E. Sadak*, E. Karakuş*, Y. Chumakov, N. A. Dogan, C. T. Yavuz 
ACS Appl. Energy Mater., 3, 5, 4983–4994 (2020). 

A hypercrosslinked ultramicroporous and ordered organic polymer network was synthesized from a planar trimer indole building block called triazatruxene (TAT) through anhydrous FeCl3 catalyzed Friedel–Crafts alkylation using methylal as a crosslinker. The polymer network is stable in a variety of chemicals and thermally durable. The hypercrosslinked network TATHCP shows a high BET (Brunauer–Emmet–Teller) specific surface area of 997 m2 g–1 with CO2 uptake capacity of 12.55 wt % at 273 K, 1.1 bar. Gas selectivities of 38.4 for CO2/N2, 7.8 for CO2/CH4, 40.6 for CO2/O2, and 32.1 for CO2/CO were achieved through IAST calculation. The PXRD analysis has revealed that TATHCP has a fully eclipsed structure in full agreement with Pawley refinement. The ordered 2D layers provide anisotropy that could be used in catalysis and thermoelectric measurements. After loading with Pd(II), TATHCP-Pd showed high catalytic activity in Suzuki–Miyaura cross coupling reaction with a wide range of reagents and excellent reaction yields of 90–98% with good recyclability. The structure of TATHCP-Pd was found to have two independent molecules of Pd(OAc)2 in the asymmetric unit cell which are arranged between two TATHCP layers. Thermoelectric properties of TATHCP showed a high Seebeck coefficient and ZT, a first and promising example in HCPs with applications in all-organic thermal energy recovery devices.
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Thiourea-Based Extraction and Deposition of Gold for Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold Process

J. Son, Y. Hong, C. T. Yavuz, J. Han*
Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 59, 16, 8086-8092 (2020).
DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.0c00493

Gold electroless plating for surface finishing of electronic circuits, named electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG), is widely practiced in the electronics packaging industry. Noncyanide substitutions of the current cyanide bath for immersion gold are being sought for environmental and safety reasons. Herein, as a promising option, a bath using a noncyanide gold complex, Au(I)–thiourea, was developed. The kinetics of gold deposition were estimated with respect to gold concentration, thiourea concentration, pH, and temperature; the transfer coefficient of gold concentration and activation energy were found to be 0.697 and 36.69 kJ·mol–1, respectively. In addition, the quality of gold coating in terms of corrosion resistance was verified by electrochemical analysis. The relationship between particle size and corrosion resistance of the coating was confirmed by morphology observation through scanning electron microscopy and Tafel plots. The corrosion potential of the gold layer with thiourea was found to be −62 mV, close to that of the layer using a thiosulfate–sulfite bath, with an advantage of faster deposition rate. The results suggest Au(I)–thiourea can serve as an eco-friendly and field-implementable option for the ENIG process, helping to realize a closed-loop process of gold: recovering the precious metal from electronic wastes and reusing it in new products.
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Quantifying nitrogen effect on CO2 capture using isoporous network polymers

T. S. Nguyen, C. T. Yavuz*
Chem. Commun., 56, 4273-4275 (2020).
DOI: 10.1039/D0CC00982B
Cover Image DOI: 10.1039/D0CC90168G

The impact of nitrogen atoms on CO2 binding was evaluated for two isostructural porous bisimidazole-linked polymers (BILPs), which serendipitously had identical surface areas and pore size distributions, a very rare observation. The two structures differ only in the core of the trialdehyde component, the nitrogen atom (BILP-19) versus benzene ring (BILP-5). Such a slight difference, however, has brought about a stronger CO2 capture capacity of BILP-19 and hence increased CO2/N2 separation capability.
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Dry reforming of methane by stable Ni–Mo nanocatalysts on single-crystalline MgO

Y. Song, E. Ozdemir, S. Ramesh, A. Adishev, S. Subramanian, A. Harale, M. Albuali, B. A. Fadhel, A. Jamal, D. Moon, S. H. Choi, C. T. Yavuz*
Science, 367, 6479, 777-781 (2020).
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2412

Large-scale carbon fixation requires high-volume chemicals production from carbon dioxide. Dry reforming of methane could provide an economically feasible route if coke- and sintering-resistant catalysts were developed. Here, we report a molybdenum-doped nickel nanocatalyst that is stabilized at the edges of a single-crystalline magnesium oxide (MgO) support and show quantitative production of synthesis gas from dry reforming of methane. The catalyst runs more than 850 hours of continuous operation under 60 liters per unit mass of catalyst per hour reactive gas flow with no detectable coking. Synchrotron studies also show no sintering and reveal that during activation, 2.9 nanometers as synthesized crystallites move to combine into stable 17-nanometer grains at the edges of MgO crystals above the Tammann temperature. Our findings enable an industrially and economically viable path for carbon reclamation, and the “Nanocatalysts On Single Crystal Edges” technique could lead to stable catalyst designs for many challenging reactions.

Perspective: Liyu Chen, Qiang Xu*, "Fewer defects, better catalysis?", p. 737
Research summary by Phil Szuromi, "Overcoming surface defects", p. 752-753
Highlighted in Chemistry World, C&ENNature Asia
Korean press release, English press release

Media Coverage:
Science Daily
The Engineer
Wikipedia: 2020 in Science

Korean Media:
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Catalytic non-redox carbon dioxide fixation in cyclic carbonates

S. Subramanian§, J. Oppenheim§, D. Kim§, T. S. Nguyen, W. M. H. Silo, B. Kim, W. A. Goddard III*, C. T. Yavuz* 
Chem, 5, 3232-3242 (2019). §: Equal contribution.
DOI: 10.1016/j.chempr.2019.10.009

If cycloaddition of CO2 to epoxides is to become a viable non-redox CO2 fixation path, it is crucial that researchers develop an active, stable, selective, metal-free, reusable, and cost-effective catalyst. To this end, we report here a new catalyst that is based on imidazolinium functionality and is synthesized from an unprecedented, one-pot reaction of the widely available monomers terephthalaldehyde and ammonium chloride. We show that this covalent organic polymer (COP)-222 exhibits quantitative conversion and selectivity for a range of substrates under ambient conditions and without the need for co-catalysts, metals, solvent, or pressure. COP-222 is recyclable and has been demonstrated to retain complete retention of activity for over 15 cycles. Moreover, it is scalable to at least a kilogram scale. We determined the reaction mechanism by using quantum mechanics (density functional theory), showing that it involves nucleophilic-attack-driven epoxide ring opening (ND-ERO). This contrasts with the commonly assumed mechanism involving the concerted addition of chemisorbed CO2.
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Gold recovery using porphyrin-based polymer from electronic wastes: Gold desorption and adsorbent regeneration

J. Son, Y. Hong, G. Han, T. S. Nguyen, C. T. Yavuz, J. Han*
Sci. Total Environ., 704, 135405 (2020).
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135405

Electronic wastes containing precious metals have great potential as a sustainable source of such metals. Separation and refining, however, remain complicated, and none of the existing technologies have yet experienced commercialization. A novel porphyrin-based porous polymer, named COP-180, was recently introduced as a powerful adsorbent option, especially for gold, and in this study, aspects of desorption and recovery of adsorbed gold and regeneration of the polymer were investigated. A hydrometallurgical method using non-cyanide leaching agents was developed, and an acid thiourea-based solution was found to be particularly suited for the method based on COP-180 with gold desorption efficiency of 97%. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy spectra demonstrated the unaffected structure of COP-180 after desorption, implying the potential of its reuse. This high desorption efficiency was achieved even without typical aiding agents by means of a formamidine disulfide-mediated route that prevented thiourea consumption, which is considered a major drawback of the otherwise promising reagent. Using this method, the polymer was able to maintain more than 94% desorption efficiency after five times of regeneration. The results suggest that acid thiourea can offer a workable means of recovering gold particularly from the excellent gold-adsorbent of COP-180, and that repeated regeneration is also possible.
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Zwitterion π-conjugated network polymer based on guanidinium and β-ketoenol as a heterogeneous organocatalyst for chemical fixation of CO2 into cyclic carbonates

M. Garai, V. Rozyyev, Z. Ullah, A. Jamal, C. T. Yavuz*
APL Mater., 7, 111102 (2019). Open Access
DOI: 10.1063/1.5122017

The chemical fixation of CO2 with epoxides to cyclic carbonate is an attractive 100% atom economic reaction. It is a safe and green alternative to the route from diols and toxic phosgene. In this manuscript, we present a new zwitterionic π–conjugated catalyst (Covalent Organic Polymer, COP-213) based on guanidinium and β-ketoenol functionality, which is synthesized from triaminoguanidinium halide and β-ketoenols via the ampoule method at 120 °C. The catalyst is characterized by FTIR-attenuated total reflection (ATR), Powder X-Ray diffraction, thermogravimetric analysis, XPS, and for surface area Brunauer–Emmett–Teller and CO2 uptake. It shows quantitative conversion and selectivity in chemical fixation of CO2 to epoxides under ambient conditions and without the need for cocatalysts, metals, solvent, or pressure. The catalyst can be recycled at least three times without the loss of reactivity. 
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Laser tag group activity

We had a great time at the laser tag place nearby before having a group dinner at our favorite restaurant Vesta. The first shooting match was a tie but the red team won against the blue in the sniper and flag capture games. Rumor is the professor cannot keep up with the young people anymore and failed the blue team :)

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Fluorinated covalent organic polymers for high performance sulfur cathodes in lithium–sulfur batteries

H. Shin§, D. Kim§, H. J. Kim§, J. Kim, K. Char*, C. T. Yavuz*, J. W. Choi*
Chem. Mater., accepted (2019). §: Equal contribution
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.9b01986

Lithium–sulfur (Li–S) batteries by far offer higher theoretical energy density than that of the commercial lithium-ion battery counterparts, but suffer predominantly from an irreversible shuttling process involving lithium polysulfides. Here, we report a fluorinated covalent organic polymer (F-COP) as a template for high performance sulfur cathodes in Li–S batteries. The fluorination allowed facile covalent attachment of sulfur to a porous polymer framework via nucleophilic aromatic substitution reaction (SNAr), leading to high sulfur content, e.g., over 70 wt %. The F-COP framework was microporous with 72% of pores within three well-defined pore sizes, viz. 0.58, 1.19, and 1.68 nm, which effectively suppressed polysulfide dissolution via steric and electrostatic hindrance. As a result of the structural features of the F-COP, the resulting sulfur electrode exhibited high electrochemical performance of 1287.7 mAh g–1 at 0.05C, 96.4% initial Columbic efficiency, 70.3% capacity retention after 1000 cycles at 0.5C, and robust operation for a sulfur loading of up to 4.1 mgsulfur cm–2. Our findings suggest the F-COP family with the adaptability of SNAr chemistry and well-defined microporous structures as useful frameworks for highly sustainable sulfur electrodes in Li–S batteries.
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Processing nanoporous organic polymers in liquid amines

J. Byun*, D. Thirion, C. T. Yavuz
Beilstein J. Nanotech., 10, 1844–1850 (2019). Open Access 
DOI: 10.3762/bjnano.10.179

Rigid network structures of nanoporous organic polymers provide high porosity, which is beneficial for applications such as gas sorption, gas separation, heterogeneous (photo)catalysis, sensing, and (opto)electronics. However, the network structures are practically insoluble. Thus, the processing of nanoporous polymers into nanoparticles or films remains challenging. Herein, we report that nanoporous polymers made via a Knoevenagel-like condensation can be easily processed into nanoparticles (115.7 ± 40.8 nm) or a flawless film by using liquid amines as a solvent at elevated temperatures. FTIR spectra revealed that the carboxyl groups in the nanoporous polymers act as reactive sites for amines, forming new functionalities and spacing the polymeric chains to be dissolved in the liquid amines. The processed film was found to be CO2-philic despite the low surface area, and further able to be transformed into a fine carbon film by thermal treatment.
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High-capacity methane storage in flexible alkane-linked porous aromatic network polymers

V. Rozyyev, D. Thirion, R. Ullah, J. Lee, M. Jung, H. Oh, M. Atilhan*, C. T. Yavuz*
Nat. Energy, 4, 604-611, (2019).
DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0427-x
Readcube link to read for free

Adsorbed natural gas (ANG) technology is a viable alternative to conventional liquefied or compressed natural-gas storage. Many different porous materials have been considered for adsorptive, reversible methane storage, but fall short of the US Department of Energy targets (0.5 g g−1, 263 l l−1). Here we prepare a flexible porous polymer, made from benzene and 1,2-dichloroethane in kilogram batches, that has a high methane working capacity of 0.625 g g−1 and 294 l l−1 when cycled between 5 and 100 bar pressure. We suggest that the flexibility provides rapid desorption and thermal management, while the hydrophobicity and the nature of the covalently bonded framework allow the material to tolerate harsh conditions. The polymer also shows an adsorbate memory effect, where a less adsorptive gas (N2) follows the isotherm profile of a high-capacity adsorbate (CO2), which is attributed to the thermal expansion caused by the adsorption enthalpy. The high methane capacity and memory effect make flexible porous polymers promising candidates for ANG technology.
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Farewell lunch for Dr. Dogan

We bid farewell to Dr. Nesibe A. Dogan with a group lunch. She joined our lab in September 2014 as a PhD student and worked on morphology control of porous polymers and their applications. Please click here to read her publications. She is moving to Paris, France for a postdoc at CNRS. We wish her all the best!
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Sustainable synthesis of superhydrophobic perfluorinated nanoporous networks for small molecule separation

S. Kim§, D. Thirion§, T. S. Nguyen, B. Kim, N. A. Dogan, C. T. Yavuz* 
Chem. Mater., 31, 14, 5206-5213, (2019). §: Equal contribution
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.9b01447

Nanoporous polymers offer great promise in chemical capture and separations because of their versatility, scalability, and robust nature. Here, we report a general methodology for one-pot, metal-free, and room-temperature synthesis of nanoporous polymers by highly stable carbon–carbon bond formation. Three new polymers, namely, COP-177, COP-178, and COP-179, are derived from widely available perfluoroarenes and found to be superhydrophobic, microporous, and highly stable against heat, acid, base, and organic solvents. Nitrile, amine, and ether functionalities were successfully installed by SNAr-type postfunctionalization and were shown to increase CO2 uptake twice and CO2/N2 selectivity 4-fold. Due to its inherent superhydrophobicity, COP-177 showed high organic solvent uptake both in liquid and vapor form. Furthermore, in a first of its kind, by combining microporosity and hydrophobicity, COP-177 separated two small molecules with the same boiling point in a continuous column setting.
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Polypyrrole decorated mechanically robust conductive nanocomposites via solution blending and in-situ polymerization techniques

M. Zahra, S. Zulfiqar, C. T. Yavuz, H. S. Kweon, M. I. Sarwar*
Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 58, 25, 10886-10893 (2019).
DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.9b01187

Polypyrrole grafted polystyrene-b-poly(ethylene-ran-butylene)-b-polystyrene (SEBS-g-PPy)/multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) conductive nanocomposites were fabricated using two different approaches. The approach of system-I involved primarily the grafting of PPy on SEBS and its subsequent composites with nanotubes. In system-II in situ polymerization/grafting of PPy on SEBS was carried out along with MWCNTs yielding nanomaterials. Presynthesized SEBS-g-PPy and nanocomposites were characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, NMR, field emission scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and electrical, mechanical, and thermal properties. The π–π stacking interactions between PPy of SEBS-g-PPy and MWCNTs rendered ample dispersion of the nanotubes in system-II relative to system-I. The electrical conductivity and tensile data showed improvement in these properties of nanocomposites and that system-II nanocomposites can sustain higher stresses, is stiffer, and can absorb more energy before breaking. Thermal stability of both the systems was improved relative to the matrices, and decomposition temperatures were found to increase from 437 to 568 °C. Relative improvement in electrical, thermal and tensile properties were observed for system-II nanocomposites rather than for system-I nanocomposites.
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Inversion of dispersion: Colloidal stability of calixarene modified metal-organic framework nanoparticles in non-polar media

U. Jeong, N. A. Dogan, M. Garai, T. S. Nguyen, J. F. Stoddart, C. T. Yavuz* 
J. Am. Chem. Soc., accepted, (2019).
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b04198

Making metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) which are stabilized in non-polar media is not as straightforward as their inorganic nanoparticle counterparts, since surfactants penetrate through the porous structures or dissolve the secondary building units (SBUs) through ligand-exchange linker modulator mechanisms. Herein we report that calixarenes stabilize UIO-66 nanoparticles effectively by remaining outside the grains through size exclusion, without pores becoming blocked, all the while providing amphiphilicity that permits the formation of stable colloidal dispersions with much narrower size distributions. Using the UIO-66 dispersed solutions, we showed that smooth films from an otherwise immiscible polystyrene can be made feasibly.
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Photochemically-enhanced Selective Adsorption of Gold Ions on Tannin-coated Porous Polymer Microspheres

J. Kim, K. R. Kim, Y. Hong, S. Choi, C. T. Yavuz, J. W. Kim*, Y. S. Nam*
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 11, 24, 21915-21925 (2019).
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b05197

Metal recovery from electronic waste and industrial wastewater has attracted increasing attention to recycle precious metals and inhibit the emission of hazardous heavy metals. However, the selective recovery of precious metals with a large quantity is still very challenging because wastewater contains a variety of different cations while precious metal ions are relatively scarce. Here, we introduce a simple method to selectively increase the adsorption of gold ions using tannin-coated porous polymer microspheres through photochemical reduction. Mesoporous poly(ethylene glycol dimethacrylate-co-acrylonitrile) microspheres with an average pore diameter of 13.8 nm were synthesized and used as an adsorbent matrix. Tannic acid (TA) was deposited onto the internal pores of the polymer matrix by simple immersion in an aqueous milieu. TA coatings increased the maximum number of adsorbed gold ions by 1.3 times because of the well-known metal ion chelation of TA. Under light illumination, the maximum number of adsorbed gold ions dramatically increased by 6.1 times. We examined two distinct mechanisms presumably involved in the enhanced adsorption: the photooxidation of TA and plasmon-induced hot electrons. Moreover, TA-coated microspheres exhibited remarkable selectivity for gold ions among competing metal ions commonly found in waste resources. This work suggests that the photochemically activated TA can serve as an excellent adsorbent for the selective and efficient recovery of gold ions from wastewater.
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