Galvanic Replacement Reactions in Metal Oxide Nanocrystals

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Science  24 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6135, pp. 964-968
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234751

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Hollowing Out Metal Oxide Nanoparticles

Corrosion is normally a problem, but it can be useful, for example, when you wish to create hollow metal nanoparticles, whereby the reduction of one metal species in solution drives the dissolution of the core of the particle. Oh et al. (p. 964; see the Perspective by Ibáñez and Cabot) adapted this approach to metal oxide nanoparticles by placing Mn3O4 nanocrystals in solution with Fe2+ ions, which replaces the nanocrystal exterior with γ-Fe2O3. At sufficiently high Fe2+ concentrations, hollow γ-Fe2O3 nanocages formed. These hollow structures could be used as anode materials for lithium ion batteries.


Galvanic replacement reactions provide a simple and versatile route for producing hollow nanostructures with controllable pore structures and compositions. However, these reactions have previously been limited to the chemical transformation of metallic nanostructures. We demonstrated galvanic replacement reactions in metal oxide nanocrystals as well. When manganese oxide (Mn3O4) nanocrystals were reacted with iron(II) perchlorate, hollow box-shaped nanocrystals of Mn3O4/γ-Fe2O3 (“nanoboxes”) were produced. These nanoboxes ultimately transformed into hollow cagelike nanocrystals of γ-Fe2O3 (“nanocages”). Because of their nonequilibrium compositions and hollow structures, these nanoboxes and nanocages exhibited good performance as anode materials for lithium ion batteries. The generality of this approach was demonstrated with other metal pairs, including Co3O4/SnO2 and Mn3O4/SnO2.

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