The present invention relates to formation of nanocubes of sillenite type compounds, such as bismuth titanate, i.e., Bi.sub.12TiO.sub.20, nanocubes, via a hydrothermal synthesis process, with the resulting compound(s) having multifunctional properties such as being useful in solar energy conversion, environmental remediation, and/or energy storage, for example. In one embodiment, a hydrothermal method is disclosed that transforms nanoparticles of TiO.sub.2 to bismuth titanate, i.e., Bi.sub.12TiO.sub.20, nanocubes, optionally loaded with palladium nanoparticles. The method includes reacting titanium dioxide nanotubes with a bismuth salt in an acidic bath at a temperature sufficient and for a time sufficient to form bismuth titanate crystals, which are subsequently annealed to form bismuth titanate nanocubes. After annealing, the bismuth titanate nanocubes may be optionally loaded with nano-sized metal particles, e.g., nanosized palladium particles.
GOVERNMENT LICENSE RIGHTS
This invention was made with government support under Grant Number DE-EE0000272, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy; the United States federal government, therefore, has certain rights in the invention.