On the polyol synthesis of silver nanostructures: glycolaldehyde as a reducing agent.
The polyol synthesis is a popular method of preparing metal nanostructures, yet the mechanism by which metal ions are reduced is poorly understood. Using a spectrophotometric method, we show, for the first time, that heating ethylene glycol (EG) in air results in its oxidation to glycolaldehyde (GA), a reductant capable of reducing most noble metal ions. The dependence of reducing power on temperature for EG can be explained by this temperature-dependent oxidation, and the factors influencing GA production can have a profound impact on the nucleation and growth kinetics. These new findings provide critical insight into how the polyol synthesis can be used to generate metal nanostructures with well-controlled shapes. For example, with the primary reductant identified, it becomes possible to evaluate and understand its explicit role in generating nanostructures of a specific shape to the exclusion of others.
Skrabalak, SE; Wiley, BJ; Kim, M; Formo, EV; Xia, Y
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