Maghemite nanoparticles with high surface area were obtained from the dehydroxylation of lepidocrocite prismatic nanoparticles. The synthesis pathway from the precursor to the porous maghemite nanoparticles is inexpensive, simple and gives high surface area values for both lepidocrocite and maghemite. The obtained maghemite nanoparticles contained intraparticle and interparticle pores with a surface area ca. 30 × 103
/mol, with pore volumes in the order of 70 cm3
/mol. Both the surface area and pore volume depended on the heating rate and annealing temperature, with the highest value near the transformation temperature (180–250 °C). Following the transformation, in situ X-ray diffraction (XRD) allowed us to observe the temporal decoupling of the decomposition of lepidocrocite and the growth of maghemite. The combination of high-angle annular dark-field imaging using scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF-STEM) and surface adsorption isotherms is a powerful approach for the characterization of nanomaterials with high surface area and porosity.
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