Developing new solvents is a way to design new, more environmentally-friendly, methods of synthesising functional nanomaterials. These, in turn, can then have an impact in a range of clean energy applications. For example, by making nanostructured thin films of the iron oxide known as hematite, its performance as an anode for splitting water into hydrogen using sunlight is enhanced. This study, published in Nanoscale, focuses on how using a deep eutectic solvent (DES) during synthesis influences the morphology of the hematite nanoparticles produced.
Using a multi-technique approach, including small angle neutron scattering and diffraction, the researchers were able to study the reaction in situ, the first time this type of study has been done in a DES. Their results show how the nanoparticle nucleation and growth is affected by the presence of water in the DES. Understanding these solvents on the molecular level will enable scientists to develop new systems that are designed for creating specific nanomaterials in a more environmentally sustainable manner.
Related publication: Structural evolution of iron forming iron oxide in a deep eutectic-solvothermal reaction, Nanoscale, 2021,13, 1723-1737 DOI: 10.1039/D0NR08372K