Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Center for Molecular Science, Chemistry and Life Science

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Noble metal aerogels offer a wide range of catalytic applications due to their high surface area and tunable porosity. Control over monolith shape, pore size, and nanofiber diameter is desired in order to optimize electronic conductivity and mechanical integrity for device applications. However, common aerogel synthesis techniques such as solvent mediated aggregation, linker molecules, sol⁻gel, hydrothermal, and carbothermal reduction are limited when using noble metal salts. Here, we present the synthesis of palladium aerogels using carboxymethyl cellulose nanofiber (CNF) biotemplates that provide control over aerogel shape, pore size, and conductivity. Biotemplate hydrogels were formed via covalent cross linking using 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) with a diamine linker between carboxymethylated cellulose nanofibers. Biotemplate CNF hydrogels were equilibrated in precursor palladium salt solutions, reduced with sodium borohydride, and rinsed with water followed by ethanol dehydration, and supercritical drying to produce freestanding aerogels. Scanning electron microscopy indicated three-dimensional nanowire structures, and X-ray diffractometry confirmed palladium and palladium hydride phases. Gas adsorption, impedance spectroscopy, and cyclic voltammetry were correlated to determine aerogel surface area. These self-supporting CNF-palladium aerogels demonstrate a simple synthesis scheme to control porosity, electrical conductivity, and mechanical robustness for catalytic, sensing, and energy applications.