Publication Date

Fall 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Hemali Rathnayake (Director), Edwin Stevens, and Lawrence Hill

Degree Program

Department of Chemistry

Degree Type

Master of Science


Various synthetic methods have been developed to produce metal nanostructures including copper and iron nanostructures. Modification of nanoparticle surface to enhance their characteristic properties through surface functionalization with organic ligands ranging from small molecules to polymeric materials including organic semiconducting polymers is a key interest in nanoscience. However, most of the synthetic methods developed in the past depend widely on non-aqueous solvents, toxic reducing agents, and high temperature and high-pressure conditions. Therefore, to produce metal nanostructures and their nanocomposites with a simpler and greener method is indeed necessary and desirable for their nano-scale applications. Hence the objective of this thesis work is to develop an environmentally friendly synthesis method to make welldefined copper and iron nanostructures on a large-scale. The size and shape-dependent optical properties, solid-state crystal packing, and morphologies of nanostructures have been evaluated with respect to various experimental parameters.

Nanostructures of copper and iron were prepared by developing an aqueous phase chemical reduction method from copper(II) chloride and Fe(III) chloride hexahydrate upon reduction using a mild reducing agent, sodium borohydride, under an inert atmosphere at room temperature. Well-defined copper nanocubes with an average edge length of 100±35 nm and iron nanochains with an average chain length up to 1.70 μm were prepared. The effect of the molar ratios of each precursor to the reducing agent, reaction time, and addition rate of the reducing agent were also evaluated in order to develop an optimized synthesis method for synthesis of these nanostructures. UV-visible spectral traces and X-ray powder diffraction traces were obtained to confirm the successful preparation of both nanostructrues. The synthesis method developed here was further modified to make poly(3-hexylthiophene) coated iron nanocomposites by surface functionalization with poly(3-hexylthiophene) carboxylate anion. Since these nanostructrues and nanocomposites have the ability to disperse in both aqueous-based solvents and organic solvents, the synthesis method provides opportunities to apply these metal nanostructures on a variety of surfaces using solution based fabrication techniques such as spin coating and spray coating methods.


Materials Chemistry | Nanoscience and Nanotechnology | Physical Chemistry