Diffusive Formation of Hollow Mesoporous Silica Shells from Core-Shell Composites: Insights from the Hydrogen Sulfide Capture Cycle of CuO@mSiO2Nanoparticles

Baoyue Fan, Wenyang Zhao, Supriya Ghosh, K. Andre Mkhoyan, Michael Tsapatsis, Andreas Stein

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Mesoporous silica is often employed as a coating material in core-shell nanoparticles to decrease the possibility of sintering or aggregation of the core particles. In this work, we discovered a surprising morphological transformation during the sulfidation and regeneration (oxidation) of core-shell CuO@mSiO2 materials designed for H2S capture. Although CuS cores were still encapsulated within the silica shells after in situ sulfidation, hollow silica shells formed during the regeneration step as CuO leached out of the shell and aggregated into larger particles. The successful sulfidation of pristine CuO@mSiO2 was facilitated by the restraining effect of silica shells on lattice growth from CuO into CuS, and the mesopores allowed for volume expansion. The phase and morphology changes during the regeneration (oxidation) process leading to the hollow shells were investigated by X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. It was observed that the cores remained encaged during the disproportionation of CuS to Cu2S, which is the first step in the oxidation of CuS. However, voids were generated when Cu2S was oxidized and reacted with water generated from the condensation of silica. A possible mechanism for this transformation involves the outward diffusion of copper ions through the mesoporous silica, leading to the migration of core particles. This migration was further accelerated by the elevated temperature in the regeneration process and promoted by the formation of the copper sulfate hydroxide through the reaction with water. This work provides key insights into the chemical stability of such core-shell structures under the influence of diffusion-driven structural transformations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6540-6549
Number of pages10
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 16 2020

How much support was provided by MRSEC?

  • Shared

Reporting period for MRSEC

  • Period 7

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  • Journal Article

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