Tungsten nanopowders were synthesized by a low-temperature technique and then heat treated in a gaseous reductive atmosphere in order to study the phase evolution, crystallite size, and particle size of the powders as the heat treatment temperature was modified. Synthesis of the powders was carried out in aqueous media using NaBH4 as a reducing agent using careful control of the pH of the solutions. The XRD patterns of the as-synthesized powders showed an amorphous phase. After washing, energy dispersive spectroscopy showed that the powders had peaks for oxygen and tungsten. In order to promote crystallization and eliminate the oxygen, the powders were heat treated at 773 K, 923 K, and 1073 K (500 °C, 650 °C, and 800 °C) in a H2/CH4 reducing atmosphere for 2 hours. XRD after heat treatment showed α-W peaks for the powders treated at 1073 K and 923 K (800 °C and 650 °C) and a mixture of β-W and α-W for the powders treated at 773 K (500 °C). The crystallite sizes determined from X-ray peak broadening were 12, 16, and 20 nm, whereas the average particle sizes from dynamic light scattering were 260, 450, and 750 nm, for heat treatment temperatures of 773 K, 923 K, and 1073 K (500 °C, 650 °C, and 800 °C), respectively. The average crystallite size and particle sizes increased proportionally with the treatment temperature, in contrast to what has been found for some ceramics, in which as the heat treatment temperature is increased, the crystallite size increases, but the particle size stays constant.
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This project was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. CMMI 0645225 and CMMI 0913373. We are grateful to M. Ahmadian-Tehrani for help with the SEM and EDS measurements.