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Growth mechanisms of MgO nanocrystals via a sol-gel synthesis using different complexing agents

Mohd Sufri Mastuli13, Norlida Kamarulzaman23*, Mohd Azizi Nawawi1, Annie Maria Mahat23, Roshidah Rusdi23 and Norashikin Kamarudin3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Chemistry and Environmental Studies, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Selangor 40450, Malaysia

2 School of Physics and Materials Studies, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Selangor 40450, Malaysia

3 Centre for Nanomaterials Research, Institute of Science, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Level 3, Block C, Shah Alam, Selangor 40450, Malaysia

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:134  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-134

Published: 21 March 2014


In the preparation of nanostructured materials, it is important to optimize synthesis parameters in order to obtain the desired material. This work investigates the role of complexing agents, oxalic acid and tartaric acid, in the production of MgO nanocrystals. Results from simultaneous thermogravimetric analysis (STA) show that the two different synthesis routes yield precursors with different thermal profiles. It is found that the thermal profiles of the precursors can reveal the effects of crystal growth during thermal annealing. X-ray diffraction confirms that the final products are pure, single phase and of cubic shape. It is also found that complexing agents can affect the rate of crystal growth. The structures of the oxalic acid and tartaric acid as well as the complexation sites play very important roles in the formation of the nanocrystals. The complexing agents influence the rate of growth which affects the final crystallite size of the materials. Surprisingly, it is also found that oxalic acid and tartaric acid act as surfactants inhibiting crystal growth even at a high temperature of 950°C and a long annealing time of 36 h. The crystallite formation routes are proposed to be via linear and branched polymer networks due to the different structures of the complexing agents.

MgO; Nanostructured materials; Crystal growth; Sol-gel process; Complexing agent