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The University of Southampton

Research project: Hector: Metal nitride nanoparticles

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There is little known about nanoparticulate nitrides since they often have a low tendency to sinter and to crystallise them the temperature has to be relatively high.

We have been working on early transition metal nitrides, with a special interest in Ta3N5since it is a semiconductor with a band gap at the red end of the visible spectrum. Using solvothermal synthesis methods at high pressure in autoclaves nanoparticles and nanorods can be obtained. Using different starting materials TaN can be produced. We have recently extended this methodology to nitrides of Zr, Hf and Nb. This project is a collaboration with Prof P. O’Brien’s group at the University of Manchester.

Gallium nitride is also of interest as a semiconductor. Nanoparticles of this material luminesce (emit light) in the UV part of the spectrum. We are working on doping indium into such particles in order to bring the luminescence into the visible region, and also on putting a shell of another material onto the particles to improve stability and efficiency of luminescence. The work is collaborative with Dr D. C. Smith (Physics).

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