In recent decade, gold nanoclusters with atomic precision (AunLm where L = ligand) have been demonstrated
as a new and promising class of nanocatalysts. The AunLm catalysts of different sizes possess unique crystal
and electronic structures, thereby providing an excellent opportunity to correlate the intrinsic catalytic performance
with the catalysts’ structure as well as to study mechanisms of chemical reactions catalyzed over gold
nanoparticles. In this review, controlled synthesis of atomically precise gold nanoclusters and their thermal stabilities
are explained. We demonstrate important roles played by the gold nanoclusters for catalytic reactions, including
selective oxidation and hydrogenation as well as carbon-carbon coupling reactions. Tailoring of the catalysts’
functions is discussed in terms of size-specificity, ligand engineering (e.g., aromatic vs aliphatic), and doping
effects (e.g., copper, silver, palladium, and platinum). The proposed reactions’ mechanisms and the structureactivity
relationships at the atomic detail are presented.
Keywords: Gold nanocluster, oxidation, hydrogenation, C-C coupling, DFT, size-specificity, ligand effects, doping effects.
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