Traditionally, a range of high temperature powder processing techniques was used for the synthesis of metal oxide powders – the so-called shake and bake method. This was circumvented by the development of sol-gel processing technique for the low temperature synthesis of oxides from organometallic species.
Lewis’ group has focused mainly on the development of metal chalcogenide materials by low temperature processing pathways, and we have been successful in producing a range of materials, focusing on layered materials and the development of nanostructured counterparts.
Recently, during a project to develop synthetic pathways toward the 2D layered transition metal dichalcogenide MoS2 we observed a new and unexpected reaction pathway that produced MoO3 directly from the decomposition of a molybdenum dithiocarbamate (see ‘Direct Synthesis of MoS2 or MoO3 via Thermolysis of a Dialkyl Dithiocarbamato Molybdenum(IV) Complex’ Zeng et al Chemical Communications, 2018, DOI: 10.1039/C8CC08932A). The new pathway was able to produce pure phase α-MoO3 and is scalable in theory. We now ask ourselves the question: is this a general low temperature processing pathway toward transition metal and main group oxide materials?
In this project the feasibility of the reaction will be tested for a range of metal dithiocarbamates and xanthates as masked and labile precursors toward the synthesis of a range of binary, ternary and quaternary metal oxides of functional relevance to applications such as photovoltaics gas sensing, and thermoelectric energy generation. We will also attempt doping and alloying of materials by using mixed molecular precursors. The project overall will establish the feasibility of the masked labile oxide precursor as a low temperature processing route to metal oxide powders.
Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Materials Science, Chemistry. Duration 3 years, proposed start date October 2019. Self funded students can also be considered