conversion reaction synthesis: a versatile route to nanoporous metal structures

Department: NanoEngineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Ping Liu

Primary Student
Name: Christopher Michael Coaty
Phone: 612-280-5533
Grad Year: 2019

We demonstrated a scalable, room temperature synthesis method capable of producing a variety of nanoporous metal structures. Nanoporous Fe, Co, Au, Cu, Ag and Ni were formed by reacting metal-halide salts with organolithium reducing agents to form a metal/lithium salt nanocomposite. During this conversion reaction, the metal phase coalesces into an interconnected network of fine metal filaments surrounded by a lithium salt matrix. When the lithium salt is removed via dissolution in a polar organic solvent, the metal filament network remains and is an effective nanoporous pure metal. Nitrogen adsorption analysis and microscopy studies showed that these materials have high specific surface area (up to ~160 m2/g) with pore diameters ranging from 2 nm to 50 nm. This technique can also synthesize hybrid nanoporous structures of two or more metals by performing the conversion reaction on mixed precursors. Metals (e.g. Co and Cu) were found to stabilize each other when converted into a hybrid nanoporous structure, resulting in a mixed nanoporous metal with smaller pore sizes and higher surface areas than each respective element in its pure nanoporous metal form. This synthesis pathway greatly expands our access to new compositions and microstructures of nanoporous metals.

Industry Application Area(s)
Energy/Clean technology | Materials

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