Phase engineering of nanomaterials

Abstract

Phase has emerged as an important structural parameter — in addition to composition, morphology, architecture, facet, size and dimensionality — that determines the properties and functionalities of nanomaterials. In particular, unconventional phases in nanomaterials that are unattainable in the bulk state can potentially endow nanomaterials with intriguing properties and innovative applications. Great progress has been made in the phase engineering of nanomaterials (PEN), including synthesis of nanomaterials with unconventional phases and phase transformation of nanomaterials. This Review provides an overview on the recent progress in PEN. We discuss various strategies used to synthesize nanomaterials with unconventional phases and induce phase transformation of nanomaterials, by taking noble metals and layered transition metal dichalcogenides as typical examples. Moreover, we also highlight recent advances in the preparation of amorphous nanomaterials, amorphous–crystalline and crystal phase-based hetero-nanostructures. We also provide personal perspectives on challenges and opportunities in this emerging field, including exploration of phase-dependent properties and applications, rational design of phase-based heterostructures and extension of the concept of phase engineering to a wider range of materials.

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Fig. 1: Schematic models of different phases of metals and transition metal dichalcogenides.
Fig. 2: Direct synthesis of metal nanomaterials with unconventional crystal phases.
Fig. 3: Phase transformation of metal nanomaterials.
Fig. 4: Direct synthesis and phase transformation of transition metal dichalcogenides.
Fig. 5: Amorphous and amorphous–crystalline heterophase nanomaterials.

Change history

  • 06 April 2020

    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by MOE under AcRF Tier 2 (MOE2016-T2-2-103; MOE2017-T2-1-162) and AcRF Tier 1 (2017-T1-001-150; 2017-T1-002-119), NTU under Start-Up Grant (M4081296.070.500000) and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) under its AME IRG (project no. A1783c0009) in Singapore. Z.F. and H.Z. thank the support from ITC via the Hong Kong Branch of National Precious Metals Material Engineering Research Center (NPMM). Z.F., Q.H. and H.Z. thank the support from the Start-Up Grant (Project No. 9610480, 7200651 and 9380100) and grants (Project No. 9610478 and 1886921) in City University of Hong Kong.

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Y.C., Z.L., X.Z., Z.F. and Q.H. contributed equally to this work. H.Z. proposed the topic of the Review. All authors contributed to the drafting and editing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Hua Zhang.

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Chen, Y., Lai, Z., Zhang, X. et al. Phase engineering of nanomaterials. Nat Rev Chem 4, 243–256 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41570-020-0173-4

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