A simple solvothermal method for the selective synthesis of b-HgS (meta cinnabar) nanoparticles in aqueous solutions is reported with bis(dibenzyldithiocarbamato) mercury(II) as the precursor. Crystal structure, size, morphology and composition of the products are characterized by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), SAED and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). PXRD shows (111), (220), (200), (311), (222), (400), (331), (420) reflections characteristic of b-HgS. SEM micrographs display the spherical nature of the nano-b-HgS. EDX analysis showed the presence of Hg and S. HRTEM images indicate the spherical nature of the nanoparticles with their size in the range of 10–15 nm and the FFT pattern shows the crystalline nature of the spherical particles. The results are in agreement with those estimated from the XRD pattern. XPS signals observed at 162.6 and 162.8 eV are due to S2p3/2 and S2p1/2 electrons and the S2s was observed at 222.3 eV. The band gap of nano-b-HgS has been found to be 3.6 eV from the UV–visible spectral measurement. The blue-shifted band gap compared to the bulk HgS is a consequence of ‘‘size quantization’’ effect. A comprehensive characterization of the precursor by IR and single crystal X-ray crystallography shows the presence of HgS4 coordination environment, with a distinct Hg–S bond asymmetry.
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