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Home   /   Thesis   /   Custom synthesis of diamond nanoparticles for photocatalytic hydrogen production

Custom synthesis of diamond nanoparticles for photocatalytic hydrogen production

Condensed matter physics, chemistry & nanosciences Engineering sciences Materials and applications Ultra-divided matter, Physical sciences for materials


Our recent results show that nanodiamond can also act as a photocatalyst, enabling the production of hydrogen under solar illumination [1]. Despite its wide band gap, its band structure is adaptable according to its nature and surface chemistry [2]. Moreover, the controlled incorporation of dopants or sp2 carbon leads to the generation of additional bandgap states that enhance the absorption of visible light, as shown in a recent study involving our group [3]. The photocatalytic performance of nanodiamonds is therefore highly dependent on their size, shape and concentration of chemical impurities. It is therefore essential to develop a "tailor-made" nanodiamond synthesis method, in which these different parameters can be finely controlled, in order to provide a supply of "controlled" nanodiamonds, which is currently lacking.

The aim of this PhD is to develop a bottom-up approach to nanodiamond synthesis using a sacrificial template (silica beads or fibers) to which diamond seeds < 10 nm are attached by electrostatic interaction. The growth of diamond nanoparticles from these seeds will be achieved by exposing these objects to a microwave-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (MPCVD) growth plasma, allowing very fine control of (i) the incorporation of impurities into the material (ii) its crystalline quality (sp2/sp3 ratio) (iii) its size. This growth facility, which exists at the CEA NIMBE, is used for the synthesis of boron-doped diamond core-shells [4]. In the second part of the thesis, an innovative process (patent pending) is implemented to achieve MPCVD growth of diamond nanoparticles by circulating the sacrificial templates in a gas stream. During this work, different types of nanodiamonds will be synthesized: intrinsic nanoparticles (without intentional doping) and nanoparticles doped with boron or nitrogen.

After growth, the nanoparticles will be collected after dissolution of the template. Their crystal structure, morphology and surface chemistry will be studied at CEA NIMBE by scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and Raman, infrared and photoelectron spectroscopy. A detailed analysis of the crystallographic structure and structural defects will be carried out by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy.

Nanodiamonds will then be surface-modified to give them colloidal stability in water. Their photocatalytic performance for hydrogen production will be evaluated in collaboration with ICPEES (Strasbourg University).

[1] Patent, Procédé de production de dihydrogène utilisant des nanodiamants comme photocatalyseurs, CEA/CNRS, N° FR/40698, juillet 2022.
[2] Miliaieva et al., Nanoscale Adv. 2023.
[3] Buchner et al., Nanoscale (2022)
[4] Henni et al., Diam. Relat. mater. (under review)


Institut rayonnement et matière de Saclay
Service Nanosciences et Innovation pour les Materiaux, la Biomédecine et l’Energie
Laboratoire Edifices Nanométriques
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