Cold Fusion Mechanism in Nanoscale Catalysis? (Vol. 41, No. 6)

The well-understood mechanism of muon-catalyzed nuclear fusion is used for a fundamental understanding of H2O2 catalysis by nanogold, including the substantial enhancement by Au-Pd. Consider the muon-catalyzed fusion using t and d. At the Ramsauer-Townsend (R-T) minimum of the dµ and tµ elastic scattering, dtµ molecules form through strong resonances. The Coulomb barrier shrinks and d-t fusion results. In gold catalyzed H2O2 the Au- anion is first formed at the R-T minimum of the electron-Au elastic cross section. Single and double water molecules can attach to the Au- anion through strong resonances with large rates forming Au-(H2O)1 and Au-(H2O)2 anion-molecule complexes. The Coulomb barrier shrinks. Because the experiment used nanogold supported on Fe2O3, a chemical reaction between H2O and O2 resulted in H2O2 formation, releasing the Au- catalyst.

A similar analysis applies to the electron-Pd elastic scattering but with the caveat that the Pd electron affinity is slightly smaller than and R-T minimum is deeper than and extends beyond that of gold. Hence, this rich environment in minima and resonances facilitates attachment of water molecules to Au- and Pd- anions, yielding H2O2 through multiplicative catalyses.

Electron-electron correlations and core-polarization interactions are crucial for the existence and stability of most negative ions. These physical effects are embedded in our calculations. Indeed, atomic negative ions play an essential role in cold nuclear fusion and in catalysis, a chemical reaction. Au, Pt, Pd and Y atoms can be used in various combinations.

This discovery ushers in new frontiers of efficient design and synthesis of novel functional compounds and catalysts for various chemical reactions, impacting many industries. The controversial Fleischmann–Pons "cold fusion" experiment can now be understood. It used Pt-Pd electrodes and has generated attention in recent APS NEWS articles.

Novel mechanism for nanoscale catalysis
A.Z. Msezane, Z. Felfli and D. Sokolovski, J. Phys. B: At. Mol. Opt. Phys., 43, 201001 (2010)