Engineering, 2010, 2, 387-390
doi:10.4236/eng.2010.25050 Published Online May 2010 (
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
Microwave-Assisted Synthesis of Silver Nanoparticles in
Alkalic Carboxymethyl Chitosan Solution
Binghui Wang1, Xupin Zhuang1, Wenjian Deng1, Bowen Cheng2*
1Department of Nonwovens, School of Textile, Tianjin Polytechnic University, Tianjin, China
2Tianjin Key Laboratory of Fiber modification and functional fiber,
Tianjin Polytechnic University, Tianjin, China
Received December 16, 2009; revised February 18, 2010; accepted February 26, 2010
Silver nanoparticles were prepared by microwave irradiation of silver nitrate solution with carboxymethyl
chitosan as reducing agent and a stabilizer. The optical properties, morphology and structure were character-
ized using UV–Visible spectrophotometer, transmission electron microscope (TEM) and X-ray diffraction
(XRD). Appearance of surface plasmon band at 413 nm indicated the formation of silver nanoparticles
within 5 s microwave irradiation. TEM images show most silver nanoparticles are between 2 nm and 20 nm.
XRD results identified the nanoparticles as face-centered cubic phase.
Keywords: Silver Nanoparticles, Carboxymethyl Chitosan, Microwave Irradiation, Chemical Reduction
1. Introduction
Metal nanoparticles have attracted significant attention
because of their unusual size-dependent optical and elec-
tronic properties. Among these metals, silver nanoparti-
cles (AgNPs) show potential applications in various
fields such as the environment, biomedicinal, catalysis,
optics and electronics [1]. AgNPs can be synthesized
using various methods such as chemical reduction [2],
electrochemical [3], γ-radiation [4], laser ablation [5],
photochemical [6]. Among these methods, the most
popular method is chemical reduction of silver salt in the
presence of stabilizer. Most commonly used stabilizing
agents are polymers [7] and surfactants [8]. Utilization of
nontoxic chemicals and renewable materials has attracted
considerable attention due to their advantage in reducing
the environmental risk. Polysaccharide, as a polyhy-
droxylated macromolecule, has been reported used as
‘green’ capping agent in the synthesis of silver nanopar-
ticles. Chitosan, a natural polysaccharide widely found in
the shells and exoskeletons of some crustacean, has been
used to prepare AgNPs and act as both reducing agent
and stabilizer in the process. The alkalic environment is
benefit for the formation while the solubility of chitosan
in neutral and alkalic solution is poor. Carboxymethyl
chitosan (CMCT), which is a common derivative of in-
troduction carboxymethyl group onto the hydroxyl and
amine groups, possess solubility in wide pH range even
alkalic solutions [9]. CMCT has a higher sorption ability
of metal ions than chitosan which is taken for its in-
creased chain flexibility [10] and higher concentrations
of chelating groups [11]. Therefore, it is of interest to
study the formation of AgNPs with CMCT as matrix
On the other hand, for the preparation of metal nano-
particles, microwave heating has been reported recently
to have better promise over thermal heating. In the mi-
crowave frequency range 300 MHz to 300 GHz, polar
molecules such as H2O try to orient with the electric field.
When the dipolar molecules try to re-orient with respect
to an alternating electric field, they lose energy in the
form of heat by molecular friction [12].
This study described the formation of AgNPs in
CMCT solutions with microwave assisted, and the char-
acteristics of AgNPs were studied using UV–visible
(UV–vis), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), zeta
potential, polarizing optical microscopy (POM) and
X-ray diffraction (XRD).
2. Experimental
Carboxymethyl chitosan was synthesized according to
our previously reported method using a chitoasn with
Mw 35 kDa as start material and the degree of substitu-
tion was 0.79 determined by pH titration. CMCT was
used in the form of sodium salt. For the synthesis of sil-
ver nanoparticles, a Midea brand microwave oven
(model: AU23B-AQ) was used. In a typical procedure,
10 ml of 0.1 M AgNO3 (99.5%, analytical grade) aque-
ous solution was mixed with 25 ml of 0.1% wt CMCT
aqueous solution. The mixture was adjusted to 100 ml by
adding of purified water. All the aqueous solutions were
prepared using ultrahigh purity water purified by a
mill-Q system. Then the solution was taken in a closed
round flask, and placed in a microwave oven that was
operated at a power of 800 W and frequency 2450 MHz
for different time. The solution turned colloidal and yel-
low in color which suggested the formation of silver
The silver nanoparticles solutions with different reac-
tion time were characterized with UV-vis spectrum
(SHIMADZU UV-2401P). Transmission electron mi-
croscope (TEM) was performed on a HITACHI H-7650
machine to observe the morphology of the nanoparticles.
The samples for TEM were prepared by dropping a drop
of dilute aqueous solution on carboncoated copper grids
and air-dried. The diameters of nanoparticles were cal-
culated with the aid of DigitalMicrograph™ software
(Gatan, Inc). Delsa™Nano submicron particle size and
zeta potential analyzer was also applied to examine the
size of AgNPs-CMCT composite.
The solution with reaction time of 15 s was casted film
and dried at vacuum oven. Then the film was examined
with polarizing optical microscopy (POM, OLYMPUS
BX51 equipped with 5050 ZOOM digital camera) and
wide angle X-ray diffraction (XRD, Bruker Axs D8
Discover with Gadds, Cu Kα).
3. Results and Discussions
It was found that the colourless solution turned yellow
even within 5 s of microwave irradiation, which sug-
gested that silver nanoparticles were successfully synthe-
sized with CMCT and AgNO3 promoted by microwave.
Figure 1 shows the UV–vis spectra of the samples at
different reaction time during the reactive process. An
absorption peak named surface plasmon absorption band
(SPB) is observed at about 413 nm, and the intensity
became stronger with the passage of reactive time. The
results indicate more AgNPs crystal nucleus amount
formation and the size of nanoparticles negligible in-
crease. Also, there is no obvious absorption in the range
of 450-800 nm indicates the neglectable aggregation oc-
curs in this reactive system and the nanoparticles are well
CMCT is an oxygen-rich natural polysaccharide con-
sisting of anhydroglucose units joined by an oxygen
linkage as chitosan. When AgNO3 was mixed with
CMCT solution, Ag+ ions could be bound to CMCT
macromolecules chains probably via electrostatic (i.e.,
ion–dipole) interactions, because the electron-rich oxy-
300 400 500 60
Figure 1. UV–vis spectra of the silver colloidal solution at
different microwave irradiation time.
gen atoms of polar hydroxyl and CMCT are expected to
interact with electropositive Ag+ ions and form CMCT-
Ag+ complex [13]. With microwave heating, continuing
reduction of Ag+ to Ag causes the aggregation of silver
clusters into nanoparticles.
The morphology of the monodispersed AgNPs was
observed with the aid of TEM (c.a. Figure 2). The
AgNPs are observed as spherical particles and uniformly
distributed which illustrates the synthesis of AgNPs
through reduction of Ag+ inside the polymer templates.
The histogram of the particle size distribution shows that
most particles are between 2 nm and 20 nm and have
similar distributions at 5 s and 15 s. The results demon-
strate that use of microwave irradiation in the synthesis is
a promise method not only due to faster heating but it
also gives internal uniform heating resulting into uni-
formly distributed monodispersed particles.
The particles size of the AgNPs was further tested us-
ing the laser diameter measurement method as shown in
Figure 3. From the results, the size distribution is be-
tween 55.7 nm and 111.4 nm which is higher than the
value tested by TEM. Considering that the energy distri-
bution of laser of dispersed and diffracted is used to
evaluate the size of particles in this method, the test con-
firms the structure of AgNPs-CMCT composites in
which AgNPs are stabilized by CMCT macromolecules.
Figure 4 shows the POM image of the casted film
from AgNPs-CMCT composites solution. The branch
configuration is observed in which the bright points rep-
resent the silver nanoparticles bind to the CMCT chains.
The image further confirmed the structure of AgNPs-
CMCT composites.
The XRD pattern of AgNPs-CMCT powder prepared
from the colloidal solution is given in Figure 5. The fig-
ure shows the bragg diffraction peaks at 38.1°, 44.0°,
64.0° and 77.7° which belong to (111), (200), (220) and
(311) planes respectively. This is in good agreement
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
B. H. WANG ET AL.389
Figure 2. TEM images of AgNPs microwave irradiated dif-
ferent time. (a) 5 s and (b)15 s.
with the literature values (JCPDS, 4-0783) and the crys-
tal structure is face-centered cubic.
4. Conclusions
The silver nanoparticles were synthesized in the AgNO3
and CMCT alkalic aqueous solution by microwave-
assisted. The UV-vis absorption spectra confirmed the
formation of AgNPs and TEM images revealed the size
is between 2 nm and 20 nm. The morphology of AgNPs/
CMCTS composites is branch-like under POM and the
crystal structure is face-centered cubic.
Figure 3. The size distribution of AgNPs tested using the
laser diameter measurement method.
Figure 4. POM graph of the film casted from AgNPs–
CMCT composite solution.
30 40 50 60 70 80
2 theta(degree)
Figure 5. XRD pattern of the film casted from AgNPs–
CMCT composite solution.
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
5. Acknowledgements
The authors are grateful for the support of Tianjin Col-
lege Science and Technology Development Fund under
Grant 20060911.
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