Mechanically Robust Hybrid Gel Beads Loaded with “Naked” Palladium Nanoparticles as Efficient, Reusable, and Sustainable Catalysts for the Suzuki–Miyaura Reaction

Matteo Albino, Thomas J. Burden, Carmen C. Piras, Adrian C. Whitwood, Ian J.S. Fairlamb, David K. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increase in demand for Pd and its low abundance pose a significant threat to its future availability, rendering research into more sustainable Pd-based technologies essential. Herein, we report Pd scavenging mechanically robust hybrid gel beads composed of agarose, a polymer gelator (PG), and an active low-molecular-weight gelator (LMWG) based on 1,3:2,4-dibenzylidenesorbitol (DBS), DBS-CONHNH2. The robustness of the PG and the ability of the LMWG to reduce Pd(II) in situ to generate naked Pd(0) nanoparticles (PdNPs) combine within these gel beads to give them potential as practical catalysts for Suzuki–Miyaura cross-coupling reactions. The optimized gel beads demonstrate good reusability, green metrics, and most importantly the ability to sustain stirring, improving reaction times and energy consumption compared to previous examples. In contrast to previous reports, the leaching of palladium from these next-generation beads is almost completely eliminated. Additionally, for the first time, a detailed investigation of these Pd-loaded gel beads explains precisely how the nanoparticles are formed in situ without a stabilizing ligand. Further, detailed catalytic investigations demonstrate that catalysis occurs within the gel beads. Hence, these beads can essentially be considered as robust “nonligated” heterogeneous PdNP catalysts. Given the challenges in developing ligand-free, naked Pd nanoparticles as stable catalysts, these gel beads may have future potential for the development of easily used systems to perform chemical reactions in “kit” form.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1678-1689
Number of pages12
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Early online date24 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
D.K.S. acknowledges University of York for part-funding of MA’s research costs. Syngenta and the University of York provided iCASE funding for T.J.B. C.C.P. was supported by an EPSRC IAA award.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.


  • catalysis
  • gel
  • gelator
  • nanoparticles
  • palladium
  • Suzuki-Miyaura

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