Materials Sciences and Applicatio n, 2011, 2, 981-987
doi:10.4236/msa.2011.28132 Published Online August 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Application of Statistical Design Strategies to
Optimize the Preparation of CuO Nanoparticles by
Hydrothermal Technique
Reda Mohamed1,2*, Ibreheem Mkhalid1, Elham Azaam1
1Chemistry Department, Faculty of Science, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, KSA; 2Central Metallurgical R&D Institute,
CMRDI, Cairo, Egypt.
Email: *
Received January 23rd, 2011; revised March 10th, 2011; accepted June 7th, 2011.
Synthesis of CuO nanoparticles by hydrothermal technique in presence of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) as
surfactant was carried out by statistically designed experiments based on Box Behnken method. Reaction parameters as
time, temperature and surfactant concentration have been studied to show their effect on CuO particle size and mor-
phology. The results of experimental design indicate that the surfactant concentration, reaction time and temperature
were significant in CuO particles were characterized using XRD and SEM. These work findings showed that CuO na-
noparticles were formed at 100˚C. On other hand, their crystallinity was improved with rising temperature from 100 to
200˚C to achieve particle size of CuO in the range of 49 - 92 nm.
Keywords: Statistical Design, CuO, Nanoparticles, Surfactant, Hydrothermal
1. Introduction
Nanocrystalline semiconductor particles have drawn
considerable interest in recent years because of their spe-
cial properties such as a large surface to-volume ratio,
increased activity, special electronic properties and uniq-
ue optical properties as compared to those of the bulk
materials [1,2]. The oxides of transition metals are an
important class of semiconductors, which have applica-
tions in magnetic storage media, solar energy transfor-
mation, electronics and catalysis [3-12]. Among the ox-
ides of transition metals, CuO has attracted much atten-
tion because it is the basis of several high-Tc supercon-
ductors. CuO is a semiconducting compound with a nar-
row band gap and used for photoconductive and photo-
thermal applications [13]. However, up to now, the re-
ports on the preparation and characterization of nano-
crystalline CuO are relatively few contrariwise to other
transition metal oxides such as zinc oxide, titanium di-
oxide, tin dioxide and iron oxide. Recently methods for
the preparation of nanocrystalline CuO have been re-
ported as the sonochemical method [14], sol-gel tech-
nique [15], one-step solid state reaction method at room
temperature [16], electrochemical method [17], thermal
decomposition of precursors [18], and co-implantation of
metal and oxygen ions [19], hydrothermal [20-22]. The
optimum conditions and the interaction between the pa-
rameters for preparation of CuO nanosized particles are
not determined yet; in this work statistically designed
experiments (Box Behnken method) have been per-
formed to study the synthesis of nanoparticles CuO via a
low-temperature hydrothermal technique with and with-
out surfactant as a function of the surfactant concentra-
tion, reaction time, and temperature.
2. Experimental
CuO nanoparticles were synthesized as follow: equal
volume of Cu(NO3)2·3H2O and urea NaOH are mixed in
presence of a cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (0 - 5 m
mol) at room temperature with magnetic stirring. Cu(OH)2
precipitate are formed instantaneously. The Cu(OH)2 pre-
cipitate was separated by decantation and washed by
water several times. Suspension of Cu(OH)2 hydrother-
mally treated in a teflon-lined autoclave at 100, 150 and
200˚C for different period from 1-5 hours. Af-
ter hydrothermal treatment, the samples were centrifuged
and dried at 110˚C for 24 hours. Observation of surface
morphology was performed using a scanning electron
microscope (SEM JEOL model JSM5410). X-ray powder
Application of Statistical Design Strategies to Optimize the Preparation of CuO Nanoparticles by Hydrothermal Technique
diffraction (XRD) patterns were conducted at room tem-
perature (RT) using Bruker axs, D8 advance using Cu Kα
radiation at a wavelength 0.154 nm. Box Benhken ex-
perimental design for the variables is shown Table 1.
Plots of the response surface, contours, and the best pre-
dictive models for estimating the variable response were
developed. The Box-Behnken design in Table 1 can fit
the following model [23];
iiiji j
Eyx xx
 
 
 (1)
where y is the estimate of the response variable and Xi’s
are the independent variables [surfactant concentration,
time and temperature] that are known for each experi-
mental run. The parameters β0, βi, and βij are the regres-
sion parameters.
3. Results and Discussions
In the precipitation and hydrothermal process, the CuO
powders form by two reactions according to the follow-
ing equations:
CuNO2 NaOHCu(OH)+2 NaNO 3
Cu(OH) CuO+HOHydrothermal
 (3)
Copper nitrate reacts with sodium hydroxide to form
copper hydroxide that needs to be converted into the de-
sired CuO product by hydrothermal method. X-ray dif-
fraction and SEM results confirm the crystallinity of
CuO with a small primary crystal size below 70 nm, re-
spectively. There are three variables for preparation of
CuO nanoparticles via hydrothermal process: surfactant
concentration, temperature and time. The optimum con-
ditions using experimental design have been revealed.
3.1. Effect of Synthetic Variables on CuO
Particles Size
Figure 1 shows that the effect of reaction time and tem-
perature on CuO particle size (0, 2.5 and 5 mmol surfac-
tant). The particles size was increased from 50 to 84 nm
with increasing hydrothermal time from 1 to 5 hours in
absence of surfactant as shown in Figure 1(a). Moreover,
we noticed that with increasing temperature from 100 -
200˚C the particles size increased from 64 to 84 nm after
3 hours. The lowest particle size, 49 nm, was achieved at
low surfactant concentrations and temperature 125˚C. At
3 mmol surfactant concentration, the particles size
growth was dependent on reaction time, (Figure 1(b)).
Moreover, the particles size increment can be performed
with rising the reaction temperature. The contour shown
in Figure 1(c), at 5 mmol surfactant concentration, illus-
trates that the particles size can be controlled through
tuning reaction time and temperature. The surfactant ad-
dition showed pronounceable influence on growth of
CuO nanoparticle that can be followed by observing the
particles size of sample prepared in absence and presence
of surfactant. However the lowest particle size can be
achieved at 150˚C for 1 hour without surfactant. Interac-
tion graph for the particles size of CuO as a function of
temperature and time at 2.5 mmol surfactant concentra-
tion is shown in Figure 1(d). It reveals that the particles
size of sample prepared at 100˚C is much larger than 200˚.
This unexpected behavior might be due to removal part
of CTAB attached the Cu(OH)2 surface during washing
step the before the hydrothermal treatment. Surfactant
concentration, temperature and time have a significant
role for reducing CuO particle size.
All the experimental data was collected at the 3-D cu-
Table 1. Experimental Box Behnken Design with the 3 levels and 3 variables utilized in the experiment.
Coded Factor Levels
Run No. Time, hr Temperature, °C Surfactant concentration, mmol Particle size, nm
R1 1.00 100.00 2.50 88
R2 5.00 100.00 2.50 75
R3 3.00 150.00 2.50 70
R4 5.00 200.00 2.50 95
R5 1.00 100.00 2.50 88
R6 3.00 100.00 0.00 50
R7 3.00 150.00 2.50 70
R8 3.00 100.00 5.00 82
R9 1.00 200.00 2.50 85
R10 3.00 150.00 2.50 69
R11 3.00 200.00 5.00 105
R12 5.00 150.00 5.00 85
R13 3.00 150.00 2.50 71
R14 3.00 150.00 2.50 70
R15 3.00 200.00 0.00 77
R16 1.00 150.00 0.00 55
R17 5.00 150.00 0.00 78
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Application of Statistical Design Strategies to Optimize the Preparation of CuO Nanoparticles by Hydrothermal Technique983
Particle size
B : tem perat ure
1.00 2.003.00 4.005.00
70.7983 77.385
77.385 83.9717
A: Time
Particle size
B : t em perat ure
1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00
A: Time
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Application of Statistical Design Strategies to Optimize the Preparation of CuO Nanoparticles by Hydrothermal Technique
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Particle size
B : t em perat ure
1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00
70.7983 77.385
A: Time
Interaction Graph
B : temperature
Particle size
1.00 2.003.00 4.005.00
A: Time
Figure 1. (a) Contour plots for the effects of time and temperature on CuO particles size at surfactant conc. = Zero; (b) Con-
tour plots for the effects of time and temperature on CuO particles size at surfactant concentration 2.5 mmol; (c) Contour
plots for the effects of time and temperature on CuO particles size at surfactant concentration 5 mmol; (d) Interaction graph
for the effect of time and temperature at zero surfactant concentration.
Application of Statistical Design Strategies to Optimize the Preparation of CuO Nanoparticles by Hydrothermal Technique 985
bic as shown in Figure 4. The data revealed that particles
size was ranged from 65 to 92 nm. At low temperature,
100˚C, and long reaction time without surfactant, the par-
ticle size was 65 nm. Rising temperature to 200˚C the par-
ticles size increased to 83 nm. On the other hand, at low
temperature and short reaction time without surfactant the
particle size was 88 nm. With rising temperature to 200˚C
and surfactant concentration to 5mmol, the particles size
was increased to 92 nm. Under such conditions, low sur-
factant concentration would be desirable for less aggrega-
The diagnostic results provide plot that can be used to
analyze the data, which is plot of predicted values as a
function of experimentally observed values for the parti-
cle size of CuO when the surfactant concentration, time
and temperature are changed. These plot show that there
is a linear relationship between the experimentally ob-
served and predicted values from the model, and also that
the differences between observed and predicted values
are in the range of ± 1%. These indicate that experiments
were conducted well and the results are not carrying any
significant error. Also the standard deviation was 0.71
and R2 0.9994.
3.2. XRD Patterns
The XRD patterns of five CuO powders were determined
and similar results were obtained. Here, R2, R3, R11 and
Cube Graph
Partic le siz e
A: Time
B : temperature
C: surfac t ant c oncentrat
A- A+
84. 37
81. 37
83. 38
76. 38
65. 37
74. 37
87. 38
92. 38
Figure 2. 3-D plot for all experimental data.
R15 were selected as an example to reveal the effect of
temperature and surfactant concentration on the XRD
patterns as shown in Fiure 3. There are no noticeable
changes in the crystallographic patterns and intensity
ratios among peaks. But, a clear sharpening and attenua-
tion of peaks can be observed with increasing the tem-
perature. Pure CuO powder is formed only after hydro-
R1 5
In te nsity
Figure 3. XRD patterns of CuO nanoparticles for R2, R3, R11 and R15 samples.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Application of Statistical Design Strategies to Optimize the Preparation of CuO Nanoparticles by Hydrothermal Technique
R15 R4
Figure 4. SEM surface morphology of R4, R11 and R15.
thermal heating at 100˚C. In general, the peak sharpening
in XRD patterns can be ascribed to the increasing of
crystallite size. On other word, the increase in the inten-
sity of diffraction peaks is attributed to the increase in the
crystallinity of the obtained powder [24-25].
3.3. SEM Morphology
The SEM micrographs of CuO powder prepared at dif-
ferent conditions are presented in Figure 4. R4, R11 and
R15 are selected to be representative samples for all dif-
ferent conditions. At R15 without surfactant, particle
shape of CuO powder is cubic. R4 and R11 with surfac-
tant concentration of 2.5 and 5 mmol, the particle mor-
phology are become spherical after surfactant addition.
This means that, CTAB as surfactant is playing an im-
portant role for modifying the particles morphology.
4. Conclusions
Statistically designed experiments based on Box Behnk-
en method were achieved to synthesize CuO nanoparticle
in presence CTAB as surfactant by hydrothermal tech-
nique. CuO is formed only after hydrothermal heating at
100˚C. Compared to other method for synthesizing cop-
per oxide powders, the reaction conditions are considera-
bly moderate. It was found that, the surfactant concentra-
tion, reaction time and temperature were significant in
tuning the particle size. The morphology of CuO parti-
cles was modified, from cubic structure to spherical one,
using CTAB surfactant. The particle sizes of the CuO pr-
oduced are ranged from 49 to 92 nm.
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