Plasmonic noble metal nanoparticles have emerged as a promising material in sensitizing wide-bandgap semiconductors for visible-light photocatalysis. Conventional methods in constructing such heterocatalysts suffer from either poor control over the size of the metal nanoparticles or inefficient charge transfer through the metal/semiconductor interface, which limit their photocatalytic activity. To solve this problem, in this work we construct Au/TiO2 photocatalysts by depositing presynthesized colloidal Au nanoparticles with well-controlled sizes to TiO2 nanocrystals and then removing capping ligands on the Au surface through a delicately designed ligand-exchange method, which leads to close Au/TiO2 Schottky contact after a mild annealing process. Benefiting from this unique synthesis strategy, the obtained photocatalysts show superior activity to conventionally prepared photocatalysts in dye decomposition and water-reduction hydrogen production under visible-light illumination. This study not only opens up new opportunities in designing photoactive materials with high stability and enhanced performance for solar energy conversion but also provides a potential solution for the well-recognized challenge in cleaning capping ligands from the surface of colloidal catalyst nanoparticles.
Monodispersed ferroelectric BaTiO3 nanoparticles are synthesized as a model system to investigate the effect of ferroelectricity on a photocatalytic process. The results demonstrate that ferroelectricity can directly affect the photocatalytic activity due to promotion of the separation of photo-excited carriers by spontaneous polarization in ferroelectric materials. Moreover, Ag nanoparticles are attached on these BaTiO3 to further improve the photocatalytic property.
Ultrasmall gold nanoparticles (us-AuNPs, <3 nm) have been recently recognized as surprisingly active and extraordinarily effective green catalysts. Their stability against sintering during reactions, however, remains a serious issue for practical applications. Encapsulating such small nanoparticles in a layer of porous silica can dramatically enhance the stability, but it has been extremely difficult to achieve using conventional sol-gel coating methods due to the weak metal/oxide affinity. In this work, we address this challenge by developing an effective protocol for the synthesis of us-AuNP@SiO2 single-core/shell nanospheres. More specifically, we take an alternative route by starting with ultrasmall gold hydroxide nanoparticles, which have excellent affinity to silica, then carrying out controllable silica coating in reverse micelles, and finally converting gold hydroxide particles into well-protected us-AuNPs. With a single-core/shell configuration that prevents sintering of nearby us-AuNPs and amino group modification of the Au/SiO2 interface that provides additional coordinating interactions, the resulting us-AuNP@SiO2 nanospheres are highly stable at high temperatures and show high activity in catalytic CO oxidation reactions. A dramatic and continuous increase in the catalytic activity has been observed when the size of the us-AuNPs decreases from 2.3 to 1.5 nm, which reflects the intrinsic size effect of the Au nanoparticles on an inert support. The synthesis scheme described in this work is believed to be extendable to many other ultrasmall metal@oxide nanostructures for much broader catalytic applications.
We report that fully alloyed Ag/Au nanospheres with high compositional homogeneity ensured by annealing at elevated temperatures show large extinction cross sections, extremely narrow bandwidths, and remarkable stability in harsh chemical environments. Nanostructures of Ag are known to have much stronger surface plasmon resonance than Au, but their applications in many areas have been very limited by their poor chemical stability against nonideal chemical environments. Here we address this issue by producing fully alloyed Ag/Au nanospheres through a surface-protected annealing process. A critical temperature has been found to be around 930 °C, below which the resulting alloy nanospheres, although significantly more stable than pure silver nanoparticles, can still gradually decay upon extended exposure to a harsh etchant. Nanospheres annealed above the critical temperature show a homogeneous distribution of Ag and Au, minimal crystallographic defects, and the absence of structural and compositional interfaces, which account for the extremely narrow bandwidths of the surface plasmon resonance and may enable many plasmonic applications with high performance and long lifetime, especially for those involving corrosive species.
A one-step growth of triangular silver nanoplates on a large scale is developed by a coordination-based kinetically controlled seeded growth method, with their edge length precisely tuned from 150 nm to 1.5 ?m, and surface plasmon resonance extends to full near-infrared.
By using gold nanorods as an example, we report the dynamic and reversible tuning of the plasmonic property of anisotropically shaped colloidal metal nanostructures by controlling their orientation using external magnetic fields. The magnetic orientational control enables instant and selective excitation of the plasmon modes of AuNRs through the manipulation of the field direction relative to the directions of incidence and polarization of light.
This paper describes a simple and convenient procedure to synthesize monodisperse silver (Ag) quasi-nanospheres with size tunable in a range of 19-140 nm through a one-step seeded growth strategy. Acetonitrile was employed as a coordinating ligand of a Ag(I) salt in order to achieve a low concentration of elemental Ag after reduction and thus suppression of new nucleation events. Since the addition of the seeds significantly accelerates the reduction reaction of Ag(I) by ascorbic acid, the reaction kinetics was further delicately balanced by tuning the reaction temperature, which proved to be critical in producing Ag quasi-nanospheres with uniform size and shape. This synthesis is highly scalable, so that it provides a simple yet very robust process for producing Ag quasi-nanospheres for many biological, analytical, and catalytic applications which often demand samples in large quantity and widely tunable particle sizes.
We report a general method for the synthesis of noble metal nanorods, including Au, Ag, Pt, and Pd, based on their seeded growth in silica nanotube templates. The controlled growth of the metals occurs exclusively on the seeds inside the silica nanotubes, which act as hard templates to confine the one-dimensional growth of the metal nanorods and define their aspect ratios. This method affords large quantities of noble metal nanorods with well-controlled aspect ratios and high yield, which may find wide use in the fields of nanophotonics, catalysis, sensing, imaging, and biomedicine.
We have developed a robust method for the synthesis of silica nanotubes with controlled aspect ratios on a large scale by templating against rod-like nanocrystals. Crystalline nanorods of a nickel-hydrazine complex are first formed in reverse micelles by surfactant capping on side facets, and subsequent silica coating and selective etching give rise to silica nanotubes of high uniformity and yield. The length of the silica nanotubes is tunable in the range 37-340 nm and can reach as long as micrometers. Control of the length is conveniently achieved by tuning the hydrazine/nickel ratio, which affects the growth kinetics of the nanocrystal templates. The inner diameter of the silica nanotubes can be adjusted in the range 10-20 nm by choosing different surfactants. This method is unique in utilizing reverse micelles as discrete nanoscale reactors for the growth of nanocrystals, allowing for precise control of the features of the nanotubes and opening up new opportunities in the synthesis of novel anisotropic nanomaterials, construction of nanodevices, and potential drug delivery applications.
We present a general process that allows convenient production of multifunctional composite particles by direct self-assembly of hydrophobic nanoparticles on host nanostructures containing high-density surface thiol groups. Hydrophobic nanoparticles of various compositions and combinations can be directly assembled onto the host surface through the strong coordination interactions between metal cations and thiol groups. The resulting structures can be further conveniently overcoated with a layer of normal silica to stabilize the assemblies and render them highly dispersible in water for biomedical applications. As the entire fabrication process does not involve complicated surface modification procedures, the hydrophobic ligands on the nanoparticles are not disturbed significantly so that they retain their original properties such as highly efficient luminescence. Many complex composite nanostructures with tailored functions can be efficiently produced by using this versatile approach. For example, multifunctional nonspherical nanostructures can be efficiently produced by using mercapto-silica coated nano-objects of arbitrary shapes as hosts for immobilizing functional nanoparticles. Multilayer structures can also be achieved by repeating the mercapto-silica coating and nanoparticle immobilization processes. Such assembly approach will provide the research community a highly versatile, configurable, scalable, and reproducible process for the preparation of various multifunctional structures.
Mercapto-silica spheres with controllable size from ?150 nm to ?3.5 ?m and narrow size distribution have been prepared in water using a one-pot synthesis, in which 3-mercaptopropyltrimethoxysilane (MPS) was used as the sole silica source and ammonia as the base catalyst. The hydrolysis of MPS at the early stage of the reaction produces amphiphilic silicate species which initiate the self-emulsification of the system and lead to the formation of oil-in-water emulsion droplets. Further hydrolysis and condensation promote the nucleation and growth of the mercapto-silica spheres inside the emulsion droplets. These mercapto-silica spheres are both structurally and functionally different from typical silica particles prepared from silicon alkoxides. Understanding the formation mechanism allows systematic tuning of the size of mercapto-silica spheres in a wide range by changing the amount of precursor, the concentration of ammonia, the amount of additional surfactants, and the reaction time. We find that Ostwald ripening may occur quickly if the spheres are kept in the reaction solution, resulting in significant broadening of the particle size distribution. In order to obtain uniform and stable samples, it is important to quench the growth of the mercapto-silica spheres by separating them from the original reaction mixture and then storing them in solvents that can prevent further ripening.
A one-step seeded growth process has been developed for the synthesis of Au nanoparticles with tunable diameters from ~10 nm to ~200 nm. The delicately designed growth system suppresses self-nucleation by stabilizing a concentrated growth solution with strong coordinating ligands, leading to precise size control and convenient, scalable fabrication of Au nanoparticles.
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