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Issue 31, 2013
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A nanoscale-modified LaMer model for particle synthesis from inorganic tin–platinum complexes

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The size-tunable structure and properties of Pt nanoparticles at the atomic length scale have attracted significant attention across a wide variety of fields including magnetics, electrocatalysis, optics, and gas-phase synthesis. Mechanisms responsible for the formation Pt nanoparticles remain unclear because of the difficulty generating in situ data for the time-evolution of size, shape, distribution, volume fraction, particle number density, and oxidation state from the starting complexes. We here demonstrate the use of simultaneous small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering combined with UV-vis spectroscopy to measure these key synthesis metrics for the reduction of Pt(IV) by Sn(II) in aqueous solution. This synthesis approach has been previously shown to permit continuous control over Pt nanoparticle size from 0.9 to 2.6 nm to within 10% standard deviation. Such fine control led to the discovery of densely packed amorphous structures at ca. 1.7 nm with substantially enhanced electrocatalytic oxygen reduction relative to nanocrystals and commercial electrocatalysts. Ex situ UV-vis and in situ X-ray scattering are here shown to reveal four distinct stages during synthesis: (1) autoreduction of a ligand/noble metal complex with a unique structure that depends on the Sn(II)/Pt(II) ratio, (2) generation of Pt primary particles and the formation of Pt nuclei at a rate that depends on the structure of the initial complex, (3) nanoparticle growth via LaMer's diffusion of these primary particles to the nuclei, and (4) growth termination due to capping from a stabilizing, two-layer ligand shell. We derive a set of consecutive rate equations and associated kinetic parameters that describe each step. The kinetics of ligand rearrangement has been previously found to limit the rate of nanoparticle growth. We incorporate this phenomenon into LaMer's classic diffusion-limited growth scheme to extend it to the nanoscale regime. This new model provides detailed understanding of how metal ligands serve as both reducing and stabilizing agents and allow for unprecedented, continuous control over both size and distribution. Systematic variation of temperature permits detailed time resolution at the very onset of Pt primary particle formation, as well as a means to determine temperature sensitivity of nanoparticle growth.

Graphical abstract: A nanoscale-modified LaMer model for particle synthesis from inorganic tin–platinum complexes

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Publication details

The article was received on 18 Apr 2013, accepted on 14 Jun 2013 and first published on 17 Jun 2013

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3TA11552F
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2013,1, 8903-8916
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    A nanoscale-modified LaMer model for particle synthesis from inorganic tin–platinum complexes

    S. St. John, Z. Nan, N. Hu, D. W. Schaefer and A. P. Angelopoulos, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2013, 1, 8903
    DOI: 10.1039/C3TA11552F

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