A team of scientists from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki has developed a simple, eco-friendly, low-cost technique that is capable of rapidly producing silver nanoparticles, an important nanomaterial used in drug delivery, contaminant solvents, catalysts and electronic devices.
The innovative technique involves the addition and mixing of a strawberry tree leaf extract into an aqueous solution of silver nitrate for a few minutes. This process forms silver nanoparticles immediately. The researchers have described their study in the journal, Materials Letters.
Co-author and UC3M researcher, Sophia Tsipas informed that this technique is an easier and low-cost method as it involves the use of a non-toxic plant at a temperature range from 25ºC to 80ºC. This technique enables the researchers to manipulate the parameters of the process to get nanoparticles with known size between 5 and 40 nm and shapes such as cubes, pyramids and spheres. The resulting nanoparticles have demonstrated higher stability for a longer period by up to six months.
Strawberry tree leaves provide such stability because they create different nanometer-sized organic layers around the silver nanoparticles. Moreover, the extract functions as stabilizer and reducing agent for the whole product. Techniques such as FTIR, ultraviolet spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy have been utilized to characterize and verify the nanoparticles produced.
At present, the researchers are working on ways to optimize the process as well as exploring techniques to synthesize similar nanoparticles using other metals such as copper and gold.