Growth and Stabilization of Ag and Ni Nanoclusters within a Polymer Matrix Via Aerosol Spray Pyrolysis
Zachariah, Michael R
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Metal nanoclusters exhibiting enhanced properties are inherently unstable because of their high specific surface area. This work investigates how the undesirable agglomeration of these nanostructures can be circumvented by incorporating them into a polymer matrix. Using aerosol spray pyrolysis (ASP), Ag and Ni nanoclusters less than 20 nm in diameter have been synthesized by growing and trapping them within polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), polyethylene glycol (PEG), and polyethylene oxide (PEO). Experimental process variables including the polymer system’s molecular weight, the temperature of the tube furnace reactor, the carrier gas flow rate, and the metal salt concentration within the ASP precursor solution have been studied to understand which parameters govern nanocluster formation and growth. Having analyzed the correlations that exist between these parameters and the size distribution of the Ag and Ni nanoclusters, a qualitative model is proposed that identifies which primary mechanisms underlie the formation of metal nanoclusters within a polymer matrix.