Honors College Theses




Biochemistry (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (archived)

Faculty Mentor

Beverly Briggs Penland


The synthesis of nanoparticles is an increasingly popular field of interest. The application of nanoparticles is especially popular in the field of nanocatalysts. Metal nanoparticles (NPs) are favorable for catalysis because of the large surface area to volume ratio, which allows them to catalyze a variety of reactions using lesser amounts of active material. As the field of nanoparticle research expands, efforts are being made to create more sustainable approaches to the synthesis of these particles. This research sought to translate the benefits of peptide-based synthesis to organic solvents and use less toxic organic solvents for carbon-carbon coupling reactions, like Heck coupling with new peptide-based nanocatalysts. Using less toxic organic solvents, PdNPs were synthesized in ethanol, with the use of peptides to mediate the NP formation. The PdNPs were characterized by UV-Vis, hydrodynamic size, and SEM-TED analysis. The effectiveness of these nanoparticles as catalysts was examined through the use of carbon-carbon coupling reactions with aryl halides to yield biphenyl products. The catalytic studies were conducted in matching solvent concentrations as the NP synthesis at room temperature and pressure at a catalyst loading of 0.05 mol%. The results of the carbon-carbon coupling utilizing the PdNPs were quantified using NMR and GC-MS.