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In Situ Studies of the Formation of Tungsten and Niobium Oxide Nanoparticles: Towards Automated Analysis of Reaction Pathways from PDF Analysis using the Pearson Correlation Coefficient

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Using Pair Distribution Function (PDF) analysis of in situ total scattering data, the formation of tungsten and niobium oxides in a simple solvothermal synthesis is investigated. A Pearson Correlation Coefficient (PCC) based methodology automates the data analysis and structure characterization and proves useful for analysis of large datasets of, for example, time resolved X-ray scattering studies. The PCC is implemented in ‘PDF in the cloud’, a web platform for PDF analysis.


Abstract

Using Pair Distribution Function (PDF) analysis of in situ total scattering data, we investigate the formation of tungsten and niobium oxides in a simple solvothermal synthesis. We use Pearson Correlation Coefficient (PCC) analysis of the time resolved PDFs to both map the structural changes taking place throughout the synthesis and identify structural models for precursor and product through PCC-based structure mining. Our analysis first shows that ultra-small tungsten and niobium oxide nanoparticles form instantaneously upon heating, with sizes between 1.5 and 2 nm. We show that the main structural motifs in the nanoparticles can be described with structures containing pentagonal columns, which is characteristic for many bulk tungsten and niobium oxides. We furthermore elucidate the structure of the precursor complex as clusters of octahedra with O- and Cl-ligands. The PCC based methodology automates the structure characterization and proves useful for analysis of large datasets of for example, time resolved X-ray scattering studies. The PCC is implemented in ‘PDF in the cloud’, a web platform for PDF analysis.

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