Carnegie Mellon University
April 19, 2019

Graduate Student Tatsuya Higaki Receives Award from the International Precious Metals Institute

By Ben Panko

Chemistry Ph.D. student Tatsuya Higaki has received the 2019 Student Award from the International Precious Metals Institute for his work on gold nanoparticles. The $12,000 award will be given at the institute's annual conference in Nevada in June, where Higaki will also present on his research.

"The goal of my project will provide us with a protocol to enhance the functionality of gold nanoparticles, so that we can maximize the performance of metal nanomaterials using the smallest amount of resources," Higaki said. "The completion of this project is expected to impact fields such as catalysis, energy conversion, chemical sensing and bio-medicine."

Higaki, who works in the lab of Chemistry Professor Rongchao Jin, has been working to develop techniques to control the size and structure of gold nanoparticles using ligands, which are special ions or molecules that bond to metals. His previous research has shown that, contrary to decades of predictions, there is only a difference of 33 atoms between the metallic and nonmetallic states of gold nanoparticles. The research was featured prominently on the cover of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

“Tatsuya has done stunning syntheses of gold nanoclusters with excellent control over size and structure. His work on the 279-atom gold nanocluster successfully mapped out the nonmetal to metal transition, which sheds light on a many-decades-long fundamental question,” Jin said of Higaki’s research. “Tatsuya also achieved structure control over nanoclusters, such as the attainment of an unprecedented hexagonal-close-packed Au30 nanocluster, which exhibited intriguing electronic properties.”