In Situ In-House Powder X-ray Diffraction Study of Zero-Valent Copper Formation in Supercritical Methanol

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Nano/micro crystalline copper is widely used in catalysts and it has potential for being used as conductive additive to ink for inkjet printed electronics. Copper is attractive, because it has excellent electrical conductivity and low cost compared to noble metals. The nucleation and phase transitions from the precursor to the final micrometer sized Cu in supercritical methanol have been studied for the first time using in-house in situ powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD). Temperatures have a significant impact on the reduction process of Cu2+, at low synthesis temperature (250 °C), it was observed how the Cu2+ precursor initially formed copper hydroxy nitrate (Cu2(OH)3NO3) and transformed to copper(II)oxide (CuO) i.e no reduction took place. At 300 °C multiple phase transformation could be observed from initial copper hydroxy nitrate to zero-valent copper, the in situ investigations reveal the following reaction scheme; CuII2(OH)3NO3 → CuIIO → CuI2O → Cu0. Increasing the synthesis temperature causes the pure Cu0 to form much faster; at 350 °C, it takes 8.7 min to produce phase pure Cu0, while at 450 °C, the formation takes ∼0.7 min. Increasing the initial concentration of Cu2+ in the precursor causes formation of larger Cu0 crystallites in the final product. Finally, the in situ observations were used as guidance for making Cu0 using a supercritical flow setup.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCrystal Growth & Design
Pages (from-to)2219-2227
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


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