Nanocomposites containing FeCo alloy nanoparticles dispersed in a highly ordered 3D cubic Im3m mesoporous silica (SBA-16) matrix were prepared by a novel, single-step templated-assisted sol-gel technique. Two different approaches were used in the synthesis of nanocomposites; a pure SBA-16 sample was also prepared for comparison. Low-angle X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy and N(2) physisorption at 77 K show that after metal loading, calcination at 500 degrees C and reduction in H(2) flux at 800 degrees C the nanocomposites retain the cubic mesoporous structure with pore size not very different from the pure matrix. X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) analysis at Fe and Co K-edges demonstrates that the Fe Co nanoparticles have the typical bcc structure. The final nanocomposites were tested as catalysts for the production of carbon nanotubes by catalytic chemical vapour deposition and high-resolution TEM shows that good quality multi-walled carbon nanotubes are obtained.
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