Metal hydride materials have been intensively studied for hydrogen storage applications. In addition to potential hydrogen economy applications, metal hydrides offer a wide variety of other interesting properties. For example, hydrogen-dominant materials, which are hydrides with the highest hydrogen content for a particular metal/semimetal composition, are predicted to display high-temperature superconductivity. On the other side of the spectrum are hydrides with small amounts of hydrogen (0.1 - 1 at.%) that are investigated as viable magnetic, thermoelectric or semiconducting materials. Research of metal hydride materials is generally important to gain fundamental understanding of metal-hydrogen interactions in materials. Hydrogenation of Zintl phases, which are defined as compounds between an active metal (alkali, alkaline earth, rare earth) and a p-block metal/semimetal, were attempted by a hot sintering method utilizing an autoclave loaded with gaseous hydrogen (< 9 MPa). Hydride formation competes with oxidative decomposition of a Zintl phase. The oxidative decomposition, which leads to a mixture of binary active metal hydride and p-block element, was observed for investigated aluminum (Al) and gallium (Ga) containing Zintl phases. However, a new phase Li2Al was discovered when Zintl phase precursors were synthesized. Using the single crystal x-ray diffraction (SCXRD), the Li2Al was found to crystallize in an orthorhombic unit cell (Cmcm) with the lattice parameters a = 4.6404(8) Å, b = 9.719(2) Å, and c = 4.4764(8) Å. Increased demand for materials with improved properties necessitates the exploration of alternative synthesis methods. Conventional metal hydride synthesis methods, like ball-milling and autoclave technique, are not responding to the demands of finding new materials. A viable alternative synthesis method is the application of high pressure for the preparation of hydrogen-dominant materials. Extreme pressures in the gigapascal ranges can open access to new metal hydrides with novel structures and properties, because of the drastically increased chemical potential of hydrogen. Pressures up to 10 GPa can be easily achieved using the multi-anvil (MA) hydrogenations while maintaining sufficient sample volume for structure and property characterization. Gigapascal MA hydrogenations using ammonia borane (BH3NH3) as an internal hydrogen source were employed in the search for new hydrogen-dominant materials. Ammonia borane has high gravimetric volume of hydrogen, and additionally the thermally activated decomposition at high pressures lead to a complete hydrogen release at reasonably low temperature. These properties make ammonia borane a desired hydrogen source material. The missing member Li2PtH6 of the series of A2PtH6 compounds (A = Na to Cs) was accessed by employing MA technique. As the known heavier analogs, the Li2PtH6 also crystallizes in a cubic K2PtCl6-type structure with a cell edge length of 6.7681(3) Å. Further gigapascal hydrogenations afforded the compounds K2SiH6 and Rb2SiH6 which are isostructural to Li2PtH6. The cubic K2SiH6 and Rb2SiH6 are built from unique hypervalent SiH62- entities with the lattice parameters of 7.8425(9) and 8.1572(4) Å, respectively. Spectroscopic analysis of hexasilicides confirmed the presence of hypervalent bonding. The Si-H stretching frequencies at 1550 cm-1 appeared considerably decreased in comparison with a normal-valent (2e2c) Si-H stretching frequencies in SiH4 at around 2200 cm-1. However, the observed stretching modes in hypervalent hexasilicides were in a reasonable agreement with Ph3SiH2- (1520 cm-1) where the hydrogen has the axial (3e4c bonded) position in the trigoal bipyramidal environment.
- Exploring metal hydrides using autoclave and multi-anvil hydrogenations
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