Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. B.F. Gupton


Catalysis is one of the pillars of the chemical industry. While the use of catalyst is typically recognized in the automobile industry, their impact is more widespread as; catalysts are used in the synthesis of 80% of the US commercial chemicals. Despite the improved selectivity provided by catalyst, process inefficiencies still threaten the sustainability of a number of synthesis methods, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. Recyclable solid supported catalysts offer a unique opportunity to address these inefficiencies. Such systems coupled with continuous synthesis techniques, have the potential to significantly reduce the waste to desired product ratio (E-factor) of the production techniques. This research focuses developing sustainable processes to synthesize organic molecules by using continuous synthesis methods. In doing so, solid supported metal catalyst systems were identified, developed, and implemented to assist in the formation of carbon-carbon bonds. Newly developed systems, which utilized metal nanoparticles, showed reactivity and recyclability, comparable to commercially available catalyst.

Nanoparticles are emerging as useful materials in a wide variety of applications including catalysis. These applications include pharmaceutical processes by which complex and useful organic molecules can be prepared. As such, an effective and scalable synthesis method is required for the preparation of nanoparticle catalysts with significant control of the particle size, uniform dispersion, and even distribution of nanoparticles when deposited on the surface of a solid support. This project describes the production of palladium nanoparticles on a variety of solid supports and the evaluation of these nanoparticles for cross coupling reactions.

This report highlights novel synthesis techniques used in the formation of palladium nanoparticles using traditional batch reactions. The procedures developed for the batch formation of palladium nanoparticles on different solid supports, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes, are initially described. The major drawbacks of these methods are discussed, including limited scalability, variation of nanoparticle characteristics from batch to batch, and technical challenges associated with efficient heating of samples.

Furthermore, the necessary conditions and critical parameters to convert the batch synthesis of solid supported palladium nanoparticles to a continuous flow process are presented. This strategy not only alleviates the challenges associated with the robust preparation of the material and the limitations of scalability, but also showcases a new continuous reactor capable of efficient and direct heating of the reaction mixture under microwave irradiation. This strategy was further used in the synthesis of zinc oxide nanoparticles. Particles synthesized using this strategy as well as traditional synthesis methods, were evaluated in the context industrially relevant applications.


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