Silver silica nanocomposites were obtained by the sol-gel technique using tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS) and silver nitrate (AgNO3) as precursors. The silver nitrate concentration was varied for obtaining composites with different nanoparticle sizes. The structural and microstructural properties were determined by x-ray diffractometry (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic (XPS) studies were done for determining the chemical states of silver in the silica matrix. For the lowest AgNO3 concentration, monodispersed and spherical Ag crystallites, with an average diameter of 5 nm, were obtained. Grain growth and an increase in size distribution was observed for higher concentrations. The occurrence of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) bands and their evolution in the size range 5-10 nm is studied. For decreasing nanoparticle size, a redshift and broadening of the plasmon-related absorption peak was observed. The observed redshift and broadening of the SPR band was explained using modified Mie scattering theory.
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