Preparation and characterisation of ceria particles

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Morris, Virginia N.
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University College Cork
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Cerium dioxide (ceria) nanoparticles have been the subject of intense academic and industrial interest. Ceria has a host of applications but academic interest largely stems from their use in the modern automotive catalyst but it is also of interest because of many other application areas notably as the abrasive in chemical-mechanical planarisation of silicon substrates. Recently, ceria has been the focus of research investigating health effects of nanoparticles. Importantly, the role of non-stoichiometry in ceria nanoparticles is implicated in their biochemistry. Ceria has well understood non-stoichiometry based around the ease of formation of anion vacancies and these can form ordered superstructures based around the fluorite lattice structure exhibited by ceria. The anion vacancies are associated with localised or small polaron states formed by the electrons that remain after oxygen desorption. In simple terms these electrons combine with Ce4+ states to form Ce3+ states whose larger ionic radii is associated with a lattice expansion compared to stoichiometric CeO2. This is a very simplistic explanation and greater defect chemistry complexity is suggested by more recent work. Various authors have shown that vacancies are mobile and may result in vacancy clustering. Ceria nanoparticles are of particular interest because of the high activity and surface area of small particulates. The sensitivity of the cerium electronic band structure to environment would suggest that changes in the properties of ceria particles at nanoscale dimensions might be expected. Notably many authors report a lattice expansion with reducing particle size (largely confined to sub-10 nm particles). Most authors assign increased lattice dimensions to the presence of a surface stable Ce2O3 type layer at low nanoparticle dimensions. However, our understanding of oxide nanoparticles is limited and their full and quantitative characterisation offers serious challenges. In a series of chemical preparations by ourselves we see little evidence of a consistent model emerging to explain lattice parameter changes with nanoparticle size. Based on these results and a review of the literature it is worthwhile asking if a model of surface enhanced defect concentration is consistent with known cerium/cerium oxide chemistries, whether this is applicable to a range of different synthesis methods and if a more consistent description is possible. In Chapter one the science of cerium oxide is outlined including the crystal structure, defect chemistry and different oxidation states available. The uses and applications of cerium oxide are also discussed as well as modelling of the lattice parameter and the doping of the ceria lattice. Chapter two describes both the synthesis techniques and the analytical methods employed to execute this research. Chapter three focuses on high surface area ceria nano-particles and how these have been prepared using a citrate sol-gel precipitation method. Changes to the particle size have been made by calcining the ceria powders at different temperatures. X-ray diffraction methods were used to determine their lattice parameters. The particles sizes were also assessed using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and BET, and, the lattice parameter was found to decrease with decreasing particle size. The results are discussed in light of the role played by surface tension effects. Chapter four describes the morphological and structural characterization of crystalline CeO2 nanoparticles prepared by forward and reverse precipitation techniques and compares these by powder x-ray diffraction (PXRD), nitrogen adsorption (BET) and high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) analysis. The two routes give quite different materials although in both cases the products are essentially highly crystalline, dense particulates. It was found that the reverse precipitation technique gave the smallest crystallites with the narrowest size dispersion. This route also gave as-synthesised materials with higher surface areas. HRTEM confirmed the observations made from PXRD data and showed that the two methods resulted in quite different morphologies and surface chemistries. The forward route gives products with significantly greater densities of Ce3+ species compared to the reverse route. Data are explained using known precipitation chemistry and kinetic effects. Chapter five centres on the addition of terbia to ceria and has been investigated using XRD, XRF, XPS and TEM. Good solid solutions were formed across the entire composition range and there was no evidence for the formation of mixed phases or surface segregation over either the composition or temperature range investigated. Both Tb3+ and Tb4+ ions exist within the solution and the ratios of these cations are consistent with the addition of Tb8O15 to the fluorite ceria structure across a wide range of compositions. Local regions of anion vacancy ordering may be visible for small crystallites. There is no evidence of significant Ce3+ ion concentrations formed at the surface or in the bulk by the addition of terbia. The lattice parameter of these materials was seen to decrease with decreasing crystallite size. This is consistent with increased surface tension effects at small dimension. Chapter six reviews size related lattice parameter changes and surface defects in ceria nanocrystals. Ceria (CeO2) has many important applications, notably in catalysis. Many of its uses rely on generating nanodimensioned particles. Ceria has important redox chemistry where Ce4+ cations can be reversibly reduced to Ce3+ cations and associated anion vacancies. The significantly larger size of Ce3+ (compared with Ce4+) has been shown to result in lattice expansion. Many authors have observed lattice expansion in nanodimensioned crystals (nanocrystals), and these have been attributed to the presence of stabilized Ce3+ -anion vacancy combinations in these systems. Experimental results presented here show (i) that significant, but complex changes in the lattice parameter with size can occur in 2-500 nm crystallites, (ii) that there is a definitive relationship between defect chemistry and the lattice parameter in ceria nanocrystals, and (iii) that the stabilizing mechanism for the Ce3+ -anion vacancy defects at the surface of ceria nanocrystals is determined by the size, the surface status, and the analysis conditions. In this work, both lattice expansion and a more unusual lattice contraction in ultrafine nanocrystals are observed. The lattice deformations seen can be defined as a function of both the anion vacancy (hydroxyl) concentration in the nanocrystal and the intensity of the additional pressure imposed by the surface tension on the crystal. The expansion of lattice parameters in ceria nanocrystals is attributed to a number of factors, most notably, the presence of any hydroxyl moieties in the materials. Thus, a very careful understanding of the synthesis combined with characterization is required to understand the surface chemistry of ceria nanocrystals.
Defect chemistry , Lattice contraction , Doping , Ceria
Morris, V. N. A. 2013. Preparation and characterisation of ceria particles. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.