Copper oxide nanocrystals

J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Jul 6;127(26):9506-11. doi: 10.1021/ja050006u.


It is well-known that inorganic nanocrystals are a benchmark model for nanotechnology, given that the tunability of optical properties and the stabilization of specific phases are uniquely possible at the nanoscale. Copper (I) oxide (Cu(2)O) is a metal oxide semiconductor with promising applications in solar energy conversion and catalysis. To understand the Cu/Cu(2)O/CuO system at the nanoscale, we have developed a method for preparing highly uniform monodisperse nanocrystals of Cu(2)O. The procedure also serves to demonstrate our development of a generalized method for the synthesis of transition metal oxide nanocrystals. Cu nanocrystals are initially formed and subsequently oxidized to form highly crystalline Cu(2)O. The volume change during phase transformation can induce crystal twinning. Absorption in the visible region of the spectrum gave evidence for the presence of a thin, epitaxial layer of CuO, which is blue-shifted, and appears to increase in energy as a function of decreasing particle size. XPS confirmed the thin layer of CuO, calculated to have a thickness of approximately 5 A. We note that the copper (I) oxide phase is surprisingly well-stabilized at this length scale.