Date of Award

Fall 2015

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

David Lashmore

Second Advisor

Olof Echt

Third Advisor

James Krzanowski


Nanoparticle synthesis has garnered attention for technological applications for catalysts, industrial processing, and medical applications. The size ranges for these is in the particles nanostructural domain. Pure iron nanoparticles have been of particular interest for their reactivity and relative biological inertness. Applications include cancer treatment and carrying medicine to a relevant site. Unfortunately, because of their reactivity, pure iron nanoparticles have been difficult to study. This is because of their accelerated tendency to form oxides in air, due to the increased surface area to volume ratio. Using synthesis processes with polyphenols or long chain amines, air stable iron nanoparticles have been produced with a diameter size range of ~ 2 to about ~10 nm, but apparently have transformed due to internal pressure and crystallographic defects to the FCC phase. The FCC crystals have been seen to form icosahedral and decahedral shapes. This size is within the range for use as a catalyst for the growth of both carbon nanotubes and boron nitride nanotubes as well for biomedical applications. The advantages of these kinds of catalysts are that nanotube growth can be for the first time separated from the catalyst formation. Additionally, the catalyst size can be preselected for a certain size nanotube to grow. In summary: (1) we found the size distributions of nanoparticles for various synthesis processes, (2) we discovered the right size range for growth of nanotubes from the iron nanoparticles, (3) the nanoparticles are under a very high internal pressure, (4) the nanoparticles are in the FCC phase, (5) they appear to be in icosahedral and decahedral structures, (6) they undergo room temperature twinning, (7) the FCC crystals are distorted due to carbon in octahedral sites, (8) the iron nanoparticles are stable in air, (9) adding small amounts of copper make the iron nanoparticles smaller.