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Synthesis of Colloidal Metal Nanocrystals in Droplet Reactors: The Pros and Cons of Interfacial Adsorption

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journal contribution
posted on 09.07.2014, 00:00 by Lei Zhang, Yi Wang, Limin Tong, Younan Xia
Droplet reactors have received considerable attention in recent years as an alternative route to the synthesis and potentially high-volume production of colloidal metal nanocrystals. Interfacial adsorption will immediately become an important issue to address when one seeks to translate a nanocrystal synthesis from batch reactors to droplet reactors due to the involvement of higher surface-to-volume ratios for the droplets and the fact that nanocrystals tend to be concentrated at the water–oil interface. Here we report a systematic study to compare the pros and cons of interfacial adsorption of metal nanocrystals during their synthesis in droplet reactors. On the one hand, interfacial adsorption can be used to generate nanocrystals with asymmetric shapes or structures, including one-sixth-truncated Ag octahedra and Au–Ag nanocups. On the other hand, interfacial adsorption has to be mitigated to obtain nanocrystals with uniform sizes and controlled shapes. We confirmed that Triton X-100, a nonionic surfactant, could effectively alleviate interfacial adsorption while imposing no impact on the capping agent typically needed for a shape-controlled synthesis. With the introduction of a proper surfactant, droplet reactors offer an attractive platform for the continuous production of colloidal metal nanocrystals.

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