Nonhydrolytic sol–gel and gram-scale synthesis of surfactant-free maghemite nanoparticles with high surface area
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- Bae, D.R., Lee, YJ., Kim, D.K. et al. J Sol-Gel Sci Technol (2014) 71: 606. doi:10.1007/s10971-014-3433-2
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An organic molecule was used as a surfactant for nanoparticle synthesis in liquid phase. However, residual molecules on the surface of the nanoparticles limit their catalytic applications, because the interaction of a reactant with the nanoparticle surface is interrupted. Therefore, it is favorable for catalytic applications that the organic molecule used in the synthesis of nanoparticles only induces a sol–gel reaction of the metal precursors and the formation of nanoparticles and hardly adheres to the resulting nanoparticles. Herein, we report surfactant-free and high-surface area maghemite nanostructures via nonhydrolytic sol–gel reaction. Using Fe(acetylacetonate)3 as an iron precursor and hexylamine as a solvent and growth inhibitor, Fe2O3 nanoparticles were generated by nonhydrolysis of the iron complex and condensation at 140 °C under an air atmosphere. Characterization revealed monodisperse nanoparticles with an average size of 2.3 nm and a crystalline phase of maghemite. Residual hexylamine is hardly observed, and thus their specific surface area is 403.7 m2/g. An experimental comparison of the Fe2O3 synthesis with hexylamine and benzylamine indicates that the cone angle of an organic molecule is an important factor in the synthesis of nanoparticles with a small size and high surface area.