A flame synthesis approach is described for producing metal oxide nanoparticles. It is based on a novel microjet atomisation technique, which generates solution aerosol droplets in the sub-micron range with a mean diameter of 200 nm. Here, luminescent Eu-doped Y2O3 nanophosphors are successfully synthesised from aqueous metal nitrate precursors delivered to non-premixed CH4/N2-O2 flames. The effect of droplet size and synthesis temperature on the particle formation route is experimentally investigated by comparison with micron-size droplets (mean diameter 3.5 μm) produced by ultrasonic atomisation. Depending on the synthesis temperature, the results show that particles are formed via two different mechanisms: gas-to-particle and droplet-to-particle. Using sub-micron droplets at low temperatures (1150 K), the latter mechanism allows production of luminescent Y2O3:Eu3+ nanoparticles in the cubic phase, with straightforward particle size control from 10 to 100 nm by adjusting the precursor concentration in the 0.01-1 mol/L range. At higher flame temperatures (2750 K), results show that nanoparticles are formed via the gas-to-particle mechanism and have a size of 4-5 nm. In comparison with micron-size droplets, specific surface area measurements of the product powders show that sub-micron droplets form an increased fraction of nanoparticles via the gas-to-particle route. The greater developed surface area of sub-micron droplets enhances vaporisation of metal precursor molecules into the gas phase. Timescale analysis shows that the relative rates of solvent evaporation and bulk solute diffusion are also dependent on the droplet size. Electron microscopy confirms that dense particles are formed from sub-micron droplets subjected to a rapid rate of temperature increase in the flame. For the same synthesis conditions, micron-size droplets tend to form hollow particles, indicating that high peak temperatures near the product melting point (>2700 K) are subsequently required to promote dense particle formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Mechanical Engineering
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Flame synthesis
- Luminescent materials