Complex-mediated growth mechanism of silver nanoparticles–poly(vinyl alcohol) composite nanofibers†
In this study, a complex-mediated synthetic growth method was used to embed silver (Ag) nanoparticles in poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVAI) nanofibers in an aqueous solution. Azobisisobutyronitrile (AIBN) played a pivotal role in the preparation of the Ag–PVAI nanofibers, via its cyano groups. AIBN was used to assemble the Ag ions to form Ag complexes in the early stages of the reaction. As the reaction temperature approached 60 °C, AIBN decomposed via breakage of its C–N bonds, and thus the Ag compounds became disassembled. During this stage, Ag nanoparticles were aligned with a PVAI assistant, which acted as a gelator and stabilizer for the formation of fibrous nanostructures under magnetic stirring conditions. As a result, PVAI nanofibers (diameter: ca. 35 nm) were synthesized, with Ag nanoparticles (diameter: ca. 8 nm) embedded compactly in the inner part of the fiber. The formation of Ag–PVAI composite nanofibers was systematically investigated with field-emission scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Additionally, we performed several control experiments and proposed a plausible mechanism for the synthesis of Ag–PVAI composite nanofibers.