A solution-based synthesis route was developed to produce large quantities of MgO nanorods. Hydrated basic magnesium chloride, which has needle-like crystal structure, was used as a precursor. A subsequent two-step transformation process with magnesium hydroxide as an intermediate product was used to preserve the morphology of the precursor to yield magnesium oxide nanorods. Scanning electron microscopy, powder X-ray diffraction and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy show that the products are very pure (>95%) crystalline MgO nanorods with diameters from 40 nm to 200 nm and lengths 10 microns or longer. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy and electron diffraction further reveal that these MgO nanorods are single crystals and that the rod axis is along the <110> crystal direction. A model for the structural transformation from hydrated basic magnesium chloride to magnesium oxide has been developed and compared to our experimental results. This solution-based process can be easily scaled-up, and is a low-cost source of pure magnesium oxide nanorods needed in many industrial applications, for example, as reinforcing agents in matrix composites and as flux-pinning centers in high-TC superconductors.
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