Scientists uncover chemical transformations in cobalt nanoparticles

May 24, 2011 By Anne Ju
Scientists unveil transformations in cobalt
The evolution schematics of transition from cobalt to cobalt phosphide nanocrystals.

Understanding the intricacies of how nanoparticles undergo chemical transformations could lead to better ways to tailor their composition, which can lead to advanced material properties.

Using the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, scientists led by Richard Robinson, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, uncovered exactly what happens when cobalt nanoparticles transform into two phases of cobalt phosphides.

Their work, published in the , was featured by the journal as a "Hot Article" earlier this month.

The effect Robinson's team observed in the cobalt transitions was a nanoparticle hollowing due to asymmetric diffusivities of cations and anions. In other words, the cations move out from the core faster than anions can diffuse in, leading to a hollow particle.

Other groups have reported on this "Kirkendall" effect, but the Robinson team was the first to show that this hollowing is more complex than previously thought and can be studied as a two-step process. Their work could be used to control this process and produce complex particles with properties tailored for use in energy applications. Metal phosphides have a wide range of properties -- ferromagnetism, superconductivity, catalytic activity and among them.

The work was done in collaboration with scientists led by Richard Hennig, assistant professor of materials science and engineering. It was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Cornell Center for Materials Research and the Center at Cornell.

Explore further: Producing biodegradable plastic just got cheaper and greener

Related Stories

Size matters in crucial redox reactions

Oct 12, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Particle size has a far more dramatic impact on chemical reactivity than previously thought, according to new research from UC Davis. The results have implications for understanding a wide range of vital ...

Shape matters in the case of cobalt nanoparticles

Jun 17, 2009

Shape is turning out to be a particularly important feature of some commercially important nanoparticles—but in subtle ways. New studies* by scientists at the National Institute for Standards and Technology ...

Recommended for you

Aluminum clusters shut down molecular fuel factory

Jul 06, 2015

Despite decades of industrial use, the exact chemical transformations occurring within zeolites, a common material used in the conversion of oil to gasoline, remain poorly understood. Now scientists have ...

New catalyst does more with less platinum

Jul 06, 2015

Platinum is a highly reactive and in-demand catalyst across the chemical and energy industries, but a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Georgia Institute of Technology scientists could reduce the ...

Learning from biology to accelerate discovery

Jul 06, 2015

A spider's web is one of the most intricate constructions in nature, but its precious silk has more than one use. Silk threads can be used as draglines, guidelines, anchors, pheromonal trails, nest lining, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.