A versatile low temperature synthetic route to Zintl phase precursors: Na4Si4, Na4Ge4 and K 4Ge4 as examples

Xuchu Ma, Fen Xu, Tonya M. Atkins, Andrea M. Goforth, Doinita Neiner, Alexandra Navrotsky, Susan M. Kauzlarich

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41 Scopus citations


Na4Si4 and Na4Ge4 are ideal chemical precursors for inorganic clathrate structures, clusters, and nanocrystals. The monoclinic Zintl phases, Na4Si4 and Na4Ge4, contain isolated homo-tetrahedranide [Si 4]4- and [Ge4]4- clusters surrounded by alkali metal cations. In this study, a simple scalable route has been applied to prepare Zintl phases of composition Na4Si4 and Na4Ge4 using the reaction between NaH and Si or Ge at low temperature (420 °C for Na4Si4 and 270 °C for Na4Ge4). The method was also applied to K 4Ge4, using KH and Ge as raw materials, to show the versatility of this approach. The influence of specific reaction conditions on the purity of these Zintl phases has been studied by controlling five factors: the method of reagent mixing (manual or ball milled), the stoichiometry between raw materials, the reaction temperature, the heating time and the gas flow rate. Moderate ball-milling and excess NaH or KH facilitate the formation of pure Na4Si4, Na4Ge4 or K 4Ge4 at 420 °C (Na4Si4) or 270 °C (both M4Ge4 compounds, M = Na, K). TG/DSC analysis of the reaction of NaH and Ge indicates that ball milling reduces the temperature for reaction and confirms the formation temperature. This method provides large quantities of high quality Na4Si4 and Na4Ge4 without the need for specialized laboratory equipment, such as Schlenk lines, niobium/tantalum containers, or an arc welder, thereby expanding the accessibility and chemical utility of these phases by making them more convenient to prepare. This new synthetic method may also be extended to lithium-containing Zintl phases (LiH is commercially available) as well as to alkali metal-tetrel Zintl compounds of other compositions, e.g. K4Ge9.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10250-10255
Number of pages6
JournalDalton Transactions
Issue number46
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Inorganic Chemistry


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