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J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

DOI 10.1007/s10854-015-3716-6

One-step hydrothermal synthesis of tin dioxide nanoparticles


and its photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue
Morteza Vatanparast1 Mohammad Taghi Taghizadeh1

Received: 28 July 2015 / Accepted: 28 August 2015 / Published online: 3 September 2015
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Abstract A simple hydrothermal method was developed


for the size-controlled synthesis of tin dioxide (SnO2)
nanoparticles, using SnCl45H2O, ethylenediamine and
hydrazine. The molar ratio of the reactants, temperature,
reaction time and the surfactant were changed in order to
investigate the effect of preparation parameters on the morphology and particle size of SnO2. According to scanning
electron microscopy (SEM) results, ethylenediamine and
hydrazine can control the particle growth and play an
important role in formation of SnO2 nanostructures. The
prepared SnO2 nanoparticles were characterized extensively
by means of X-ray diffraction, energy-dispersive X-ray
spectroscopy, SEM, transmission electron microscopy,
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. Besides, the photocatalytic properties of
as-synthesized SnO2 nanoparticles have been evaluated for
the degradation of methylene blue under UV light irradiation.

1 Introduction
Semiconductor metal oxides have been widely investigated
because of their potential applications as battery materials,
photocatalysts, sensors, and optoelectronic devices [16]. As
an important n-type semiconductor metal oxide, tin dioxide
(SnO2) with the wide direct energy band gap (Eg = 3.6 eV at
300 K) has attracted vast interests due to its potential
applications in many fields, such as photocatalysts [7], solar
cells [8], gas sensor [9, 10], optoelectronic devices [11, 12]
& Morteza Vatanparast
MVatanparast@yahoo.com
1

Department of Physical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry,


University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran

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and electrode materials [13]. In general, in most of the


applications, the performance significantly depends on
morphology of the structures [14]. In recent years, various
morphologies of SnO2 nanostructures have been synthesized, such as nanoparticles [15, 16], nanorods [17], nanowires [18], nanotubes [19], nanocube [20], nanobelts [21],
nanoribbons [22] and hollow spheres [23].
Various approaches have been developed to prepare SnO2
nanomaterials, such as microemulsion [24], template-based
[25], solgel [26], controlled precipitation [27], microwave
[28], sonochemical [29], solvothermal [30, 31], and
hydrothermal [32, 33] methods. Among these synthesis
methods, the hydrothermal method is a simple and inexpensive technique for large scale production [34]. It is not
only a low temperature preparation method, but also has the
ability of controlling the size and shape of the final product
[35, 36]. In the present work, we report the hydrothermal
synthesis of SnO2 nanoparticles using SnCl45H2O,
ethylenediamine, and hydrazine as precursors. The factors
affecting the morphologies and particle sizes of SnO2 crystals, including the molar ratio of the reactants, the
hydrothermal reaction temperature and time, have been
systematically investigated. Furthermore, the photocatalytic
performance of the synthesized SnO2 nanoparticles was
evaluated by monitoring the photodegradation of methylene
blue (MB) under UV light irradiation.

2 Experimental
2.1 Preparation method
All the chemicals reagents (purchased from Aldrich) used
in our experiments were of analytical grade and were used
as received without further purification.

J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

55

In a typical experiment, 0.5 g of SnCl45H2O was dissolved in 40 ml of distilled water. Then, 0.8 ml of
ethylenediamine and 0.4 ml hydrazine hydrate were added
drop wise to the solution under stirring and ultimately the
clear solution was transferred into the Teflon lined autoclave. The autoclave was sealed and maintained at 160 C
for 5 h (sample 1), then cooled naturally to room temperature. The obtained white precipitate was centrifuged and
washed with distilled water and ethanol several times and
was dried at 70 C for 3 h. Finally, it was calcined at
400 C for 2 h. Some parameters including the molar ratio
of the reactants, reaction temperature and time were
changed for reaching the optimized condition. Reaction
conditions are listed in Table 1.

In a typical photocatalytic test performed at room temperature, 20 mg of photocatalyst nanoparticles was added
into 150 ml MB aqueous solution (5 mg/l), and then dispersed by stirring in a dark condition for 30 min to
establish adsorption/desorption equilibrium. Later, a series
of UV lamps (4 9 15 W, Philips) was switched on a 20 cm
distance over the suspension surface. Then, the changes of
MB concentration were monitored on the basis of its UV
visible absorption peak at 664 nm.

3 Results and discussion


Figure 1 shows the XRD patterns of the sample 1 before
and after the calcination process. The XRD pattern of
sample 1 before calcination appears to be amorphous-like
with sharp peak at 31.74, 34.36, 36.22, 47.50, 56.58. It
should be mentioned that we were not able to find any
standard XRD data that match this XRD pattern. However,
the diffraction pattern of sample 1 after calcination can be
indexed to a pure tetragonal phase of SnO2 with space
group P42/mnm (JCDPS No. 41-1445) including the lattice
constants of a, b = 4.7382 and c = 3.1871. The crystallite
size of the as-synthesized SnO2, D, was calculated from the
major diffraction peaks using Scherrer equation [37]:

2.2 Characterization
The X-ray diffraction (XRD) study was done by Italstracture
X-ray diffractometer model MPD 3000 with a radiation
source from Cu Ka at scan range of 10 \ 2h \ 80. Energy
dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectrum and scanning electron
micrographs (SEM) were obtained using a field-emission
scanning electron microscopy (MIRA3 FEG-SEM, Tescan
Brno, Czech Republic). Transmission electron microscope
(TEM) images were obtained on a Philips EM208 transmission electron microscope with an accelerating voltage of
100 kV. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectra were
recorded on Tensor 27 (Bruker) spectrophotometer in KBr
pellets. The UVVis diffused reflectance spectra (DRS) were
obtained from UVVis Scinco 4100 spectrometer. UVVis
absorption spectra were recorded on a Perkin-Elmer Lambda
2S UVVis spectrophotometer.

where K is the so-called shape factor, which usually takes a


value of about 0.9, k is the X-ray wavelength used in XRD,
h is the Bragg angle; b is the breadth of the observed
diffraction line at its half-intensity maximum. The estimated particle size of SnO2 by the Scherrer equation is
about 10 nm. The purity of the nanostructures was investigated by means of EDX analysis. EDX analysis of SnO2
nanoparticles (sample 1) is shown in Fig. 2. Peaks associated with Sn and O are obviously observed. Au peaks are

2.3 Photocatalytic experiment


The photocatalytic activities of the samples were determined by the degradation of aqueous MB under UV light.
Table 1 Reaction conditions
for SnO2 nanoparticles

Kk
b cos h

Sample no.

Hydrazine (ml)

Ethylenediamine (ml)

Temperature (C)

Time (h)

Surfactant

0.4

0.8

160

0.4

0.05

160

0.4

0.2

160

0.4

1.6

160

160

6
7

NH3
NaOH

160
160

5
5

0.4

0.8

120

0.4

0.8

200

10

0.4

0.8

160

10

11

0.4

0.8

160

15

12

0.4

0.8

160

PEG

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56

Fig. 1 XRD patterns of sample 1 before (a) and after (b) calcination

detected because the samples were gold coated for conduction. Moreover, no impurity peaks are observed, which
indicates a high level of purity in the product.
Figure 3a, b show SEM images of obtained products
before and after calcination of sample 1, respectively, in
the presence of 0.8 ml hydrazine and 0.4 ml ethylenediamine. As can be seen, in both of them, spherical
nanoparticles were obtained and after calcination, the
particle size of them was increased (Fig. 3b). For investigation of ethylenediamine effect, several experiments with

Fig. 2 EDX pattern of SnO2 nanoparticles (sample 1)

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J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

different concentration of ethylenediamine including 0.05,


0.2 and 1.6 ml (sample 24, respectively) were performed.
As shown in Fig. 4a, b, by decreasing the ethylenediamine
concentration, products with finer and more homogenous
particle size were obtained. By increasing the concentration to 1.6 ml (sample 4), increasing and nonuniformity of
particle size is obvious (Fig. 4c). Therefore, for obtaining
finer and more uniform structure, an optimum amount of
ethylenediamine is required. In the presence of ethylenediamine and hydrazine, releasing of ions is controllable and
so nucleation and growing mechanism in different concentration can be controlled and by adjusting conditions,
appropriate nanostructures can be achievable. Ethylenediamine is able to form a complex with metal ions. Thus,
releasing of metal ions is strongly influenced by
ethylenediamine concentration. On the other hand, the high
amount of ethylenediamine concentration cant be useful
because presence of high concentration of ethylenediamine
leads to aggregation of nanoparticles due to carbon burning
while annealing. Also, hydrazine hydrate compared to
NaOH and NH3, can release hydroxide ion slower and
more controllable. According to the above description,
mechanism of SnO2 nanoparticles formation can be as
follow:

4
Coordination: Sn4 nen $ Snenn
2
Hydrolyzation: NH2 CH2 CH2 NH2 2H2 O


! NH
3 CH2 CH2 NH3 2OH
N2 H4 H2 O !

N2 H
5

OH


4
annealing
SnO2
Precipitation: Snenn 4OH
400  C 2 h
2H2 O nenen ethylenediamine

3
4
5

For direct studying the ethylenediamine and hydrazine


effect and comparison with NaOH and NH3, three experiments were done (Fig. 5) in absence of hydrazine and
ethylenediamine (sample 5), in presence of NH3 and NaOH
(sample 6 and 7, respectively). As can be seen, in absence
of hydrazine and ethylenediamine, larger particles were
obtained in comparison with sample 1 prepared in the
presence of 0.4 ml ethylenediamine and 0.8 ml hydrazine
and in many parts, aggregation and agglomeration can be
seen (Fig. 5a). In other words, with simple hydrolyze that
the concentration of hydroxide ion is very low, fine and
uniform nanoparticles of SnO2 cant be obtained. In low
concentration, nucleation rate is low and as a result, large
particles will be achieved. In the presence of NH3 and
NaOH which the concentration of hydroxide ion is high,
larger particle with less uniformity can be synthesized. At
high concentration, the nucleation rate is high and too fine
particles were obtained. Being the particle so fine leads to
instability of particles and as a result, the particles can be

J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

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Fig. 3 SEM images of sample 1 before (a) and after (b) calcination

aggregated together (Fig. 5b, c, respectively). Figure 6a, b


shows SEM images of samples 8 and 9 formed at 120 and
200 C, respectively. As shown, by decreasing the temperature from 160 to 120 C and by increasing temperature
from 160 to 200 C, the particle size got larger and smaller,
respectively. Indeed, by increasing temperature, the particles became finer and the finest and the most uniform
particles with size of 1015 nm were obtained at 200 C.
An increase of the reaction temperature always results in an
increase of the rate of reaction; therefore at relatively high
temperatures more SnO2 nuclei will form before the growth
process, which causes the formation of more particles with
smaller diameters. For more investigation, TEM analysis
was used to observe the morphology and size of the SnO2
nanoparticles. Figure 7 shows the TEM images of sample 9
in different scale scopes. The sizes of nanoparticles
obtained from the TEM images are in close agreement with
the XRD diffraction patterns, which show sizes of
1015 nm. For evaluating of time effect, in addition to 5 h
(sample 1), two experiments were performed for 10 and

15 h (samples 10 and 11, respectively). By increasing the


time till 10 h, finer and more uniform structures can be
synthesized (Fig. 8a) compared to products obtained for
5 h (sample 1). But, by increasing the time to 15 h (sample
11), the particles got larger and the uniformity was
decreased (Fig. 8b). In other words, for achieving fine and
uniform nanoparticles in hydrothermal method, the optimum amount of time is required and this optimum time in
our study for formation of SnO2 is 10 h. For investigating
of surfactant effect, an experiment was done in the presence of PEG (sample 12) and related SEM image of
obtained product is shown in Fig. 9. As can be seen, in the
presence of surfactant, finer and more uniform particles
were prepared in comparison with products prepared in the
absence of surfactant (sample 1). However, as noted earlier, by adjusting conditions, so fine and uniform
nanoparticles can be obtained (see Fig. 6b). In other words,
by adjusting ethylenediamine concentration, time and
temperature, the surfactant can be eliminated from the
reaction.

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J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

Fig. 4 SEM images of SnO2 nanoparticles a sample 2, b sample 3, c sample 4

Figure 10 represents FT-IR spectra of the sample 1


before and after the calcination. The broad bands around
3440 and 1650 cm-1 in Fig. 10a correspond to stretching
and bending vibrations of absorbed water molecules
respectively [38], which can identify the presence of

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physisorbed water molecules linked to the SnO2 nanoparticles. The peaks at 2930 cm-1 are attributed to the CH2
asymmetric vibrations [39]. The peak at 1550 cm-1 is
associated with the bending mode of NH [40]. After
calcination, these bands disappear because of the pyrolysis

J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

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Fig. 5 SEM images of SnO2 nanoparticles a sample 5, b sample 6, c sample 7

of the organic precursor. The peaks in the region


8501350 cm-1 are assigned to hydroxyl bending mode of
different types of surface hydroxyl groups [29]. The peaks
at 665 and 550 cm-1 are assigned to the SnOSn
antisymmetric vibrations [29], where after calcination

broad band appear in this region. From the FT-IR results, it


is concluded that further heat treatment is necessary to
remove the residual water and organic precursor.
The UVVis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) of
SnO2 nanoparticles (sample 1) are shown in Fig. 11. The

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J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

Fig. 6 SEM images of SnO2 nanoparticles a sample 8, b sample 9

Fig. 7 TEM images of sample 9 in different scale

fundamental absorption edge in most semiconductors follows the exponential law. Using the absorption data, the
direct band gap (Eg) for SnO2 nanoparticles can be estimated by Taucs relationship (6):

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ahm Bhm  Eg 1=2

where hm, B and a are incident photon energy, a constant


related to the material and the absorption coefficient,

J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

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Fig. 8 SEM images of SnO2 nanoparticles a sample 10, b sample 11

Fig. 9 SEM images of SnO2 nanoparticles (sample 12)

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J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

observing the changes in absorbance (absorption intensity


vs. irradiation time) obtained by UVVis spectra. Figure 12a shows the absorption spectrum of an aqueous
solution of MB in the presence of the sample 1. As can be
seen, the intensity of the characteristic absorption peak
decreased monotonously with the increase in the exposure
time. Figure 12b indicated that in the absence of SnO2
nanoparticles, nearly no change in the absorption spectra
is observable, while in the presence of SnO2 nanoparticles, more than 90 % of MB was decolorized after
120 min.

4 Conclusions

Fig. 10 FT-IR spectrums of sample 1 before (a) and after


(b) calcination

respectively [41]. The Eg value is calculated as 3.8 eV


(326 nm) for the SnO2 nanoparticles (the sample 1), which
shows a blue shift compared with SnO2 bulk (3.6 eV).
To demonstrate the potential applicability of as-synthesized SnO2 nanoparticles, we investigated the photocatalytic decomposition of MB as the test reaction.
Moreover, the photocatalytic decomposition was performed under UV-light illumination, and the degradation
rate for the decomposition of MB was estimated by

Fig. 11 The UVVis diffuse


reflectance spectroscopy (DRS)
of SnO2 nanoparticles (sample
1). The inset shows the plots of
(ahm)2 versus the energy of light
(hm)

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In summary, SnO2 nanoparticles were successfully synthesized by hydrothermal method using SnCl45H2O,
ethylenediamine and hydrazine. Besides, the effects of
molar ratio of the reactants, temperature, reaction time and
surfactant on the morphology and particle size of the
nanoparticles were investigated. The results show that the
ethylenediamine concentration plays a key role in controlling the particle size of the final products. Hydrazine
hydrate compared to NaOH and NH3, can release
hydroxide ion slower and more controllable, which leads to
formation of finer and more homogenous nanoparticles.
SnO2 nanoparticles were characterized by XRD, EDX,
SEM, TEM, FT-IR and DRS techniques. Moreover, the assynthesized SnO2 nanoparticles showed the excellent

J Mater Sci: Mater Electron (2016) 27:5463

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Fig. 12 The photocatalytic performance of SnO2 nanoparticles (sample 1). a Absorption spectra of MB solution photocatalyzed by SnO2
nanoparticles. b MB concentration dependence on irradiation time

photocatalytic ability for the degradation of MB as a model


of pollutant.

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