Small Gold Clusters Formed in Solution Give Reaction Turnover Numbers of 107 at Room Temperature

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Very small gold clusters (3 to 10 atoms) formed from conventional gold salts and complexes can catalyze various organic reactions at room temperature, even when present at concentrations of parts per billion. Absorption and emission ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry revealed that, for example, the ester-assisted hydration of alkynes began only when clusters of three to five gold atoms were formed. The turnover numbers and turnover frequencies associated with these catalyzed reactions can be as high as 107 and 105 per hour, respectively.

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