Formation of metal clusters in halloysite clay nanotubes
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We developed ceramic core-shell materials based on abundant halloysite clay nanotubes with enhanced heavy metal ions loading through Schiff base binding. These clay tubes are formed by rolling alumosilicate sheets and have diameter of c.50 nm, a lumen of 15 nm and length ~1 μm. This allowed for synthesis of metal nanoparticles at the selected position: (1) on the outer surface seeding 3–5 nm metal particles on the tubes; (2) inside the tube’s central lumen resulting in 10–12 nm diameter metal cores shelled with ceramic wall; and (3) smaller metal nanoparticles intercalated in the tube’s wall allowing up to 9 wt% of Ru, and Ag loading. These composite materials have high surface area providing a good support for catalytic nanoparticles, and can also be used for sorption of metal ions from aqueous solutions.