Understanding The Growth And Properties Of Functional Inorganic Nanostructures : An Interfacial Approach
Surfaces and interfaces are of fundamental importance from the nucleation to growth of crystals formed under different conditions such as vapor phase, liquid phase including biomineralisation conditions. Recently there is lot of interest in controlling the shape of nanoparticles during the synthesis due to their excellent shape dependent properties. Understanding the role of surfaces and interfaces is vital for such shapecontrolled synthesis of nanomaterials. On the surface, coordination number, structure, density and composition are different from that of bulk and hence the properties are completely different in the surfaces and interfaces of any crystalline material. Especially when the length scale become nanoscale, the surface and interface play a dominant important role and leads to several new and interesting phenomena. In this dissertation, the role of surfaces and interfaces on the synthesis and the properties of inorganic functional nanostructures have been studied. The work primarily relies on basic chemistry to synthesize nanostructures that brings the importance of surfaces/interfaces into the picture. Though several basic characterization techniques have been used, electron microscopy has been the emphasis and has been used extensively through the work to probe and explore the materials for characterizing the structures over a variety of length scales. The entire thesis based on the results and findings obtained from the present investigation are organized as follows: Chapter1 gives a general introduction to the surfaces and interfaces to create a background for the investigation. This emphasizes the role of surfaces and interfaces in several aspects starting from nucleation, growth to the properties of inorganic crystals. It gives some exposure in to the different type of surface phenomenon which is common in nanoscale materials. Chapter 2 deals with the materials and methods which essentially gives the information about the materials used for the synthesis and the techniques utilized to characterize the materials chosen for the investigation. Chapter 3 deals with predicting the morphology of 2D nanostructures by combining the crystal growth theory into chemical thermodynamics. Morphology diagrams have been developed for Au, Ag, Pt and Pd to predict conditions under which two-dimensional nanostructures form as a result of a chemical reaction. In addition, it provides the general understanding of shape control in 2D nanostructures with atomistic mechanism. The validity of the morphology diagram has been tested for various noble metals by carrying out critical experiments. As a result, 2D nanostructures of metals projecting the lowest energy facet resulted in a complete novel way in the absence of any capping/reducing agents. Chapter 4 deals with predicting the formation of 2D nanostructures of inorganic crystals formed as a result of precipitation reaction. Morphology diagram has been developed for the case of hydroxyapatite, an inorganic part of the human bone. This answers some of the long standing question related to the shape of the HA crystals formed in the bone by biomineralisation. The generality of the method has been tested to few other inorganic crystals such as CaCO3, ZnO and CuO formed through precipitation reaction. The key finding of the above two chapter is that the low driving force of the chemical reactions results in two dimensional nanostructures. On contrary, high chemical driving force combined with the optimum zeta potential results in porous aggregate of nanoparticles. Chapter 5 discusses the formation of porous clusters of metals and ceramics at specific conditions. The mechanism behind the formation of monodisperse aggregates are investigated based on the interaction energies of nanoparticles in aqueous medium. This chapter reveals the role of surface charge and the surface energy in controlling the stability of nanoparticles in aqueous medium. In addition, it provides the simple methodology to produce well controlled porous clusters by exploiting the competition between surface charge and surface energy during the aggregation. The application of the porous clusters of Pt has been tested for methanol oxidation which is essential for fuel cell applications. Chapter 6 deals with the development of porous biphasic scaffolds through the morphology transition of nanorods. Rod shape is not stable when subjected to high temperature due to instability and spherodisation takes place to minimize the surface energy. Here in this chapter, by exploiting spherodisation along with the phase transition, highly interconnected porous structure of hydroxyapatite and tricalcium phosphate is achieved. Combined with the morphology transition, by adding naphthalene as a template, the possibility of achieving hierarchical porous structure also presented. The mechanical strength of the biphasic porous scaffold has been tested by microindentation. Mechanical properties of apatite are generally poor and there are lots of efforts to improve the mechanical properties apatite by the composite approach. Chapter 7 deals with the HA-Alumina and HA-TCP composites. In spite of much attention given to the mechanical properties of the composites, the interfacial phenomenon that takes place between the components of the nanocomposite has not been studied in detail. In the present study, interfacial reactions in hydroxyapatite-alumina nanocomposites have been investigated and new reaction mechanism also proposed. The degradation of densification process has been observed for the HATCP composites due to the creation of porous interface between HA crystals and TCP matrix. Mechanical properties of these two composites have been studied using microindentation. The mechanical properties of HA and TCP single crystals are important for developing the biphasic composites with reliable mechanical properties. Chapter8deals with the mechanical behavior of hydroxyapatite and tricalcium phosphate single crystals. The mechanical properties of HA and TCP have been studied by performing nanoand microindentation on specific crystallographic facets. In case of hydroxyapatite, the anisotropy in mechanical properties has been explored by performing indentation on its prism and basal planes. Nanoscale plasticity is observed in both HA and TCP crystals which arise due to the easy movement of surface atoms with lesser coordination compared to the bulk. Nanoindentation has been performed in the calciumdeficient HA platelets provides important clues about the role of calcium deficiency on the mechanical behavior of bone and has implications for the properties of osteoporotic bones.
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