Gold nanoparticles (1 nm in size) stabilized by ammonium salts of hyperbranched polystyrene are prepared. Selection of the R groups provides access to both water- and organo-dispersible gold nanoparticles. The resulting gold nanoparticles are subjected to studies on catalysis in solution, which include reduction of 4-nitrophenol with sodium borohydride, aerobic oxidation of alcohols, and homocoupling of phenylboronic acid. In the reduction of 4-nitrophenol, the catalytic activity is clearly dependent on the size of the gold nanoparticles. For the aerobic oxidation of alcohols, two types of biphasic oxidation are achieved: one is the catalyst dispersing in the aqueous phase, whereas the other is in the organic phase. The catalysts are reusable more than four times without loss of the catalytic activity. Selective synthesis of biphenyl is achieved by the homocoupling of phenylboronic acid catalyzed by organo-dispersible gold nanoparticles.
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