Rapid and Scalable Synthesis of Homogenous and Functionalizable Nanospheres that Resist Agglomeration (RFT-351)
Nanomaterials have the potential to revolutionize products across dozens of sectors. But nanomaterial performance has lagged, in part because of two critical limitations:
- Nanoparticles tend to agglomerate, effectively becoming “micro” or larger clumps that lose many of their “nano” properties.
- Nano size doesn’t automatically provide commercially valuable performance. Nanoparticles may need to incorporate functional sites to exhibit desired properties.
NDSU researchers have developed a rapid, inexpensive, and scalable process to synthesize nanospheres that resist agglomeration and offer multiple approaches to functionalization.
- Rapid and Scalable Manufacturing Using Commonly Available Materials – The process for manufacturing nanospheres is quite simple. Water containing soluble monomer, such as pyrrole, aniline, and similar monomers, optionally mixed with a functionalizing ingredient such as silver, gold, or palladium salts, is added to a production vessel, and stirred. Ozone gas is bubbled through the liquid for a matter of minutes. This triggers the formation of polymer nanospheres, beginning within seconds and completing after several hours. The resulting suspension is centrifuged to collect the nanospheres. Importantly, no template material is required to trigger the reaction.
- Nonagglomerating – These nanospheres not only resist agglomeration, they resist settling, tending to remain dispersed in suspension for weeks, months, or longer. Even when they settle out, a quick stir restores them to suspension as individual particles, not as clumps.
- Uniform and Tailorable Size – Nanospheres produced through this method range in size from approximately 70 nm to 400 nm, the exact size depending on the temperature of the batch during production. Colder temperatures produce smaller spheres, and with experience, sphere diameter can be tailored. And within a batch, the spheres are extremely uniform in size.
- Functionalizing Options – There are two paths to functionalization. First, the process creates a moderate positive charge in the polymer, which can enable interactions with anions. Second, adding metal and other salts results in a core/shell configuration, wherein the core materials may provide a wide range of desirable properties.
- Reproducible – At the lab scale, combinations of temperature, polymer, and active core material consistently produce uniform spherical nanoparticles of a predictable size.
- Environmentally friendly – Raw materials and process generates a minimum of harmful residues.
Potential applications include anti-corrosion coatings, anti-bacterial coatings, electronics, drug delivery, diagnostics, and many others.
This technology is patent pending with fully preserved PCT patent rights and is available for licensing/partnering opportunities.
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Henry Nowak, Technology Manager