Advanced Functional Materials

Cover image for Vol. 24 Issue 16

16_11/2006Cover Picture: Colloidal Synthesis of Hollow Cobalt Sulfide Nanocrystals (Adv. Funct. Mater. 11/2006)

Hollow nanocrystals have been synthesized through a mechanism analogous to the Kirkendall Effect. When a cobalt nanocrystal reacts with sulfur in solution, the outward diffusion of cobalt atoms is faster than the inward diffusion of sulfur atoms through the sulfide shell. The dominating outward diffusion of cobalt cations produces vacancies that can condense into a single void in the center of the nanocrystal at high temperatures. This process provides a general route to the synthesis of hollow nanostructures of a large number of compounds and is described in the Full Paper by A. P. Alivisatos and co-workers on p. 1389.

Formation of cobalt sulfide hollow nanocrystals through a mechanism similar to the Kirkendall Effect has been investigated in detail. It is found that performing the reaction at > 120 °C leads to fast formation of a single void inside each shell, whereas at room temperature multiple voids are formed within each shell, which can be attributed to strongly temperature-dependent diffusivities for vacancies. The void formation process is dominated by outward diffusion of cobalt cations; still, the occurrence of significant inward transport of sulfur anions can be inferred as the final voids are smaller in diameter than the original cobalt nanocrystals. Comparison of volume distributions for initial and final nanostructures indicates excess apparent volume in shells, implying significant porosity and/or a defective structure. Indirect evidence for fracture of shells during growth at lower temperatures was observed in shell-size statistics and transmission electron microscopy images of as-grown shells. An idealized model of the diffusional process imposes two minimal requirements on material parameters for shell growth to be obtainable within a specific synthetic system.

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