Synthetic Approaches to the Incorporation of Gallium and Germanium into Inorganic Polymer Structures
New sol-gel and solid-state synthesis methods and combinations of these were developed for the preparation of several new inorganic polymers related to aluminosilicate inorganic polymers, attempting to substitute gallium and germanium for aluminium and silicon. Gallium could successfully substitute for aluminium, but germanium could not be substituted for silicon by these methods. Gallium silicate and gallium aluminosilicate inorganic polymers were synthesised from mixtures of KGaO2, KAlO2, KOH solutions with finely divided SiO2 (silica fume) using a combination of sol-gel and solid-state techniques. The products of these reactions were studied by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), solid-state 27Al, 29Si, 71Ga and 39K nuclear magnetic resonance with magic-angle spinning (MAS NMR) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). For the synthesis of these mixed gallium-aluminium silicate inorganic polymers, the optimal SiO2:(Ga2O3+Al2O3) ratio was found to be 7 and the Ga:Al ratio could range from 100% Ga to 100% Al, with all intermediate ratios yielding inorganic polymers. The products showed all the characteristics of a true inorganic polymer, being X-ray amorphous and containing gallium and/or aluminium in tetrahedral coordination states. 29Si MAS NMR showed the occurrence of Si(3Ga) and Si(2Ga) sites when gallium was present, and Si(3Al) and Si(2Al) sites when aluminium was present. Unreacted silica was also detected in these compounds by 29Si NMR and spherical silica particles were observed by SEM. Heat treatment of gallium silicate, gallium aluminosilicate and aluminosilicate inorganic polymers synthesised by variations of the sol-gel method was monitored by thermal analysis methods (DSC-TGA) which revealed a water loss at 75 [degrees]C and 160 [degrees]C followed by a phase transition at 950 [degrees]C. At this temperature the inorganic polymers crystallised to KGaSi2O6 and KAlSi2O6. The thermal behaviour of these samples was found to be different at 1200 [degrees]C; the high-temperature products derived from the gallium silicate inorganic polymers remained as crystalline KGaSi2O6 and retained their shape, while gallium aluminosilicate and aluminosilicate inorganic polymers melted and slumped, losing their shape and becoming X-ray amorphous. Attempts to substitute germanium for silicon in the inorganic polymer structure were unsuccessful. A sol-gel approach using GeO2 produced crystalline K6Ga6(GeO4)6(H2O)7. In an alternative solid-state approach, potassium germanate was synthesised and subsequently reacted with KGaO2 in a solidstate reaction to form partially amorphous hydraulic precursors; however, these did not set on the addition of water. A solid-state reaction of potassium germanate with KGa5O8 formed a partially amorphous precursor powder that set with the addition of water. However, the cured product was not amorphous, but proved to be crystalline K6Ga6(GeO4)6(H2O)7. In another approach, a sol-gel reaction of NaAlO2 solution and GeO2 with KOH solution set to an X-ray amorphous but brittle product. 27Al MAS NMR showed this to contain aluminium in both tetrahedral and octahedral coordination states. When KAlO2 was used instead of NaAlO2, the products were crystalline. The study of the structure of these germanium compounds is hindered by the inaccessibility of the germanium nuclide to MAS NMR. Nevertheless, the ability to synthesise a new category of materials by these new methods opens up the possibility of their potential applications as fluorescent materials and as components of optoelectronic devices.