Materials Synthesis

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A major part of our research is dedicated to the development of wet-chemical synthesis routes to a large number of functional materials, including nanocrystalline metal oxides, metal sulfides and metal nitrides, nanocrystalline and bulk metals, lithium metal phosphates, metal oxide carbonates and organic-inorganic hybrid materials. All these materials are typically obtained by reacting molecular precursors with organic solvents at temperatures between RT and 250 °C using different heating sources such as oil baths, autoclaves or a microwave reactor.

The broad compositional range of materials accessible by these routes offers an immense variety of magnetic, optical, electronic, ferroelectric, photocatalytic or electrochemical properties.

Overview of nonaqueous sol-gel chemistry: Experimental procedure and selected metal oxide nanoparticles, metals and battery materials obtained by this method.

An integral part of our synthesis work is focused on the control of particle size, shape and surface properties, which are all critical parameters on the way to use the particles as tailor-made building blocks for the fabrication of 1-, 2- and 3-dimensional macroscopic materials.

We also continuously improve our synthesis methods according to the insights we gain from our mechanistic studies, so that we include some rationality and predictability to our synthesis development.

Finally, the composition, structure, and morphology of all our materials are carefully characterized using a broad range of methods including laboratory and synchrotron X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, gas sorption, and various spectroscopy techniques.

Our synthesis expertise can be summarized as follows:

  • Nonaqueous sol-gel chemistry
  • Solvothermal processing and microwave chemistry
  • Compositional, structural and morphological characterization of inorganic and organic-inorganic materials

Selected references:

  • N. Kränzlin, M. Niederberger, Controlled fabrication of porous metals from the nanometer to the macroscopic scale, Mater. Horiz. 2015, 2, 359-377
  • F. J. Heiligtag, M. Niederberger, The Fascinating Side of Nanoparticle Research, Mater. Today 2013, 16, 262
  • I. Bilecka, M. Niederberger, Microwave Chemistry for Inorganic Nanomaterials Synthesis, Nanoscale 2010, 2, 1358
  • M. Niederberger, N. Pinna Metal Oxide Nanoparticles in Organic Solvents: Synthesis, Formation, Assembly, and Application, Engineering Materials and Processes Series, Springer Verlag, London: 2009
  • N. Pinna, M. Niederberger, Surfactant-free nonaqueous synthesis of metal oxide nanostructures, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 5292


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