In this article, we present a new method for the obtaining of ZnCr2O4 and MgCr2O4 embedded in silica matrix. This method consists in the formation of Cr(III), Zn(II) and Cr(III), Mg(II) hydroxycarboxylate/carboxylate compounds, during the redox reaction between the nitrate ion and diol (1,3-propanediol), uniformly dispersed in the pores of hybrid gels. The thermal decomposition of these precursors leads to a mixture of corresponding metal oxides. The gels were synthesized starting from mixtures of Cr(NO3)3·9H2O, Zn(NO3)2·6H2O and Cr(NO3)3·9H2O, Mg(NO3)2·6H2O with tetraethyl orthosilicate and 1,3-propanediol for final compositions 50% ZnCr2O4/50% SiO2 and 50% MgCr2O4/50% SiO2. The obtained gels have been thermally treated at 140 °C, when the redox reaction nitrates-diol took place with formation of the precursors within the xerogels pores. The thermal decomposition of all precursors took place up to 300 °C, with formation of oxides mixtures (Cr2O3 + x and ZnO) and (Cr2O3 + x and MgO), respectively. At 400 °C, Cr2O3 + x turn to Cr2O3 which reacts with ZnO forming ZnCr2O4/SiO2. Starting with 400 °C, Cr2O3 reacts with MgO to an intermediary phase MgCrO4, which decomposes with the formation of MgCr2O4/SiO2. The formation of the precursors inside the silica matrix and the evolution of the crystalline phases were studied by thermal analysis, FT-IR spectrometry, XRD, and TEM.
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