The importance of small metal clusters in catalysis and the problems in understanding the clustering process in solution are outlined. A new analysis method for UV/Vis spectra is presented and applied to monitor the kinetics of ion reduction and cluster formation in situ. This method, which is based on a combination of two chemometric techniques, takes into account the entire UV/Vis spectrum and offers better interpretation possibilities than the traditional “band-assignment” approach. This is particularly true for nanoclusters because these have significant spectral contributions also outside the broad plasmon band that is usually associated with them. The reduction of palladium, gold, and silver ions and the formation of the corresponding clusters is monitored in the presence of two different reducing agents, sodium borohydride and tetraoctylammonium acetate. While Pd2+is found to reduce and cluster directly, the spectral decomposition of the Au3+reduction profiles shows two species corresponding to the Au+intermediate and the Au0clusters. The rates of reduction and clustering for Pd, Au, and Ag are compared and the possibilities of synthesising multimetallic clusters of these metals by coreduction are discussed.
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