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A catalyst nanoparticle covalently bonded to a surface ligand wherein the surface ligand has a peripheral functional group having a property suitable to ensure solubility in a fluid such as a hydroxylic solvent, water, lower molecular weight alcohol, methanol, ethanol, iso-propanol, or and mixtures thereof. The peripheral functional group can have an ability to couple the catalyst nanoparticle to a second catalyst nanoparticle or to a bridging material. The peripheral functional group can be capable of interacting with a surface functional group on a conductive electrode substrate. The covalently-bound ligand bearing a peripheral functional group can have a charge opposite to or chemical reactivity amenable with that of the surface functional group. A method of making a catalyst nanoparticle comprising bonding a surface ligand to a catalyst nanoparticle wherein the bonding is via a covalent bond and the surface ligand has a peripheral functional group.