Colloidal synthesis of metal oxide nanocrystals and thin films

University dissertation from Institutionen för fysik, kemi och biologi

Abstract: A main driving force behind the recent years’ immense interest in nanoscience and nanotechnology is the possibility of achieving new material properties and functionalities within, e.g., material physics, biomedicine, sensor technology, chemical catalysis, energy storing systems, and so on. New (theoretical) possibilities represent, in turn, a challenging task for chemists and physicists. An important feature of the present nanoscience surge is its strongly interdisciplinary character, which is reflected in the present work.In this thesis, nanocrystals and thin films of magnetic and ferroelectric metal oxides, e.g. RE2O3 (RE = Y, Gd, Dy), GdFeO3, Gd3Fe5O12, Na0.5K0.5NbO3, have been prepared by colloidal and sol-gel methods. The sizes of the nanocrystals were in the range 3-15 nm and different carboxylic acids, e.g. oleic or citric acid, were chemisorbed onto the surface of the nanoparticles. From FT-IR measurements it is concluded that the bonding to the surface takes place via the carboxylate group in a bidentate or bridging fashion, with some preference for the latter coordination mode. The magnetic properties of nanocrystalline Gd2O3 and GdFeO3 were measured, both with respect to magnetic resonance relaxivity and magnetic susceptibility. Both types of materials exhibit promising relaxivity properties, and may have the potential for use as positive contrast enhancing agents in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The nanocrystalline samples were also characterised by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and quantum chemical calculations.Thin films of Na0.5K0.5NbO3, GdFeO3 and Gd3Fe5O12 were prepared by sol-gel methods and characterized by x-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Under appropriate synthesis conditions, rather pure phase materials could be obtained with grain sizes ranging from 50 to 300 nm. Magnetic measurements in the temperature range 2-350 K indicated that the magnetization of the perovskite phase GdFeO3 can be described as the sum of two contributing terms. One term (mainly) due to the spontaneous magnetic ordering of the iron containing sublattice, and the other a susceptibility term, attributable to the paramagnetic gadolinium sublattice. The two terms yield the relationship M(T)=M0(T)+χ(T)'H for the magnetization. The garnet phase Gd3Fe5O12 is ferrimagnetic and showed a compensation temperature Tcomp ≈ 295 K.

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