Beyond the compositional threshold of nanoparticle-based materials

Abstract : The design of inorganic nanoparticles relies strongly on the knowledge from solid-state chemistry not only for characterization techniques, but also and primarily for choosing the systems that will yield the desired properties. The range of inorganic solids reported and studied as nanoparticles is however strikingly narrow when compared to the solid-state chemistry portfolio of bulk materials. Efforts to enlarge the collection of inorganic particles are becoming increasingly important for three reasons. First, they can yield materials more performing than current ones for a range of fields including biomedicine, optics, catalysis, and energy. Second, looking outside the box of common compositions is a way to target original properties or to discover genuinely new behaviors. The third reason lies in the path followed to reach these novel nano-objects: exploration and setup of new synthetic approaches. Indeed, willingness to access original nanoparticles faces a synthetic challenge: how to reach nanoparticles of solids that originally belong to the realm of solid-state chemistry and its typical protocols at high temperature? To answer this question, alternative reaction pathways must be sought, which may in turn provide tracks for new, untargeted materials. The corresponding strategies require limiting particle growth by confinement at high temperatures or by decreasing the synthesis temperature. Both approaches, especially the latter, provide a nice playground to discover metastable solids never reported before. The aim of this Account is to raise attention to the topic of the design of new inorganic nanoparticles. To do so, we take the perspective of our own work in the field, by first describing synthetic challenges and how they are addressed by current protocols. We then use our achievements to highlight the possibilities offered by new nanomaterials and to introduce synthetic approaches that are not in the focus of recent literature but hold, in our opinion, great promise. We will span methods of low temperature “chimie douce” aqueous synthesis coupled to microwave heating, sol–gel chemistry and processing coupled to solid state reactions, and then molten salt synthesis. These protocols pave the way to metastable low valence oxyhydroxides, vanadates, perovskite oxides, boron carbon nitrides, and metal borides, all obtained at the nanoscale with structural and morphological features differing from “usual” nanomaterials. These nano-objects show original properties, from sensing, thermoelectricity, charge and spin transports, photoluminescence, and catalysis, which require advanced characterization of surface states. We then identify future trends of synthetic methodologies that will merit further attention in this burgeoning field, by emphasizing the importance of unveiling reaction mechanisms and coupling experiments with modeling.
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David Portehault, Simon Delacroix, Guillaume Gouget, Remi Grosjean, Tsou-Hsi-Camille Chan-Chang. Beyond the compositional threshold of nanoparticle-based materials. Accounts of Chemical Research, American Chemical Society, 2018, 51 (4), pp.930-939. ⟨10.1021/acs.accounts.7b00429⟩. ⟨hal-01883831⟩

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