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Sound solution to nanoparticle handling problems
Chemistry World ^ | 2 August 2013 | Hayley Birch

Posted on 08/04/2013 2:40:03 PM PDT by neverdem


Nickel oxide nanoparticles glued together with ultrasound lost none of their catalytic activity © Wiley-VCH

Researchers are using ultrasound to bond nanoparticles – essentially sticking together particles too small to be seen with sounds too high-pitched to be heard. The technique apparently preserves the special properties of nanomaterials, while producing micro-scale particles that are easier to handle.

Jake Barralet at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and colleagues show they can take nanoparticles, coat them in phosphate and then weld them together in an ultrasonic bath to form microparticles around 200µm in size.

A chance discovery, the team initially assumed the phenomenon was down to shockwaves smashing the particles together – ultrasound causing bubbles to form and burst, generating shockwaves, as well as heat. Then they wondered if hydroxyl radicals produced in the hotspots were responsible. After their experiments failed to confirm these theories, Barralet’s team turned to the more mysterious hydrogen radicals produced in the process.

‘We haven’t got to the bottom of it yet,’ says Barralet. ‘We’re imagining it’s a reaction going on between these radicals and the phosphate.’ Hydrogen radicals exist only fleetingly – for a few nanoseconds – and little is known about them. But that hasn’t stopped the team using the technique to create microparticles of titanium dioxide, nickel oxide and, among others, a cobalt phosphate-carbon nanotube composite that they tested as a water-splitting electrocatalyst. This catalyst cleaved oxygen from water at a much faster rate than an ordinary cobalt phosphate catalyst.

According to Barralet, the particles lost none of the activity they boasted as individual nanoparticles, because their high surface area is retained – the assemblies are extremely porous. So, for example, the photocatalytic activities of their nickel oxide particles show no change between nano and micro form.

Ilker Bayer, a material scientist studying nanocomposites at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, Italy, is excited to see that the ultrasonic technique can bond a number of different nanomaterials. ‘It proves that their process is not selective or sensitive to any nanoparticle type, size, structure or chemistry,’ he says. Although he adds that the presence of phosphates might limit use of the microparticles in applications where unwanted interactions between phosphates and other materials might occur.

The approach could be used to help address safety concerns about nanoparticles. ‘The cost of having to contain these particles is not small,’ Barralet explains. ‘You can have a dust that would disperse in a room and become invisible within seconds. But you can now turn that into a lump of granules that you can pick up safely with your hand and so it exists within the scale that humans work on, and it maintains its chemical functionality.’


D C Bassett et al, Adv. Mater., 2013, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201301818

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: materialsscience; nanoparticles; nanotechnology; ultrasound

1 posted on 08/04/2013 2:40:03 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: ShadowAce


2 posted on 08/04/2013 2:41:44 PM PDT by neverdem (Register pressure cookers! /s)
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To: neverdem

A great explosion of knowledge.

3 posted on 08/04/2013 2:44:05 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: neverdem

wait.. it ‘cleaved’ hydrogen from oxygen in water particles??

how’s that work? pour water in one side, hydrogen and oxygen get produced due to nano level ‘cleaving’ of particles? that works?

if so, that’s the energy solution of the future

4 posted on 08/04/2013 4:00:18 PM PDT by sten (fighting tyranny never goes out of style)
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5 posted on 08/04/2013 5:01:37 PM PDT by neverdem (Register pressure cookers! /s)
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To: sten

Depends on how much energy has to be put into the system in order to extract hydrogen from the water, doesn’t it?

6 posted on 08/04/2013 5:09:32 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (21st century. I'm not a fan.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

if energy is required to ‘cleave’. the description implies something with carbon nanotubes. cleaving like a filter?

7 posted on 08/04/2013 6:25:43 PM PDT by sten (fighting tyranny never goes out of style)
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To: sten
I guess its hard to say; I'm no chemist. I saw "electrocatalyst" and assumed that energy was being input, but that may not be true.

In Neal Stephenson's novel "The Diamond Age" there is a discussion of a water filtration system which is just a series of tanks with dividing walls made of nanotubes. The water is dirty in the furthest tank, and completely clean in the nearest tank. All the impurities are just filtered away. There is also discussion about recovering certain of the impurities (phosphorus, etc.) which have value, and I believe discussion of oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen ending up in separate tanks as part of the process. The stuff you want is just scrubbed out of the stuff you don't want, through nanotubes.

The technology has such potential. It drives me crazy when I hear about the money spent on windmills -- I do not believe the future lies in the that particular direction.

8 posted on 08/04/2013 6:37:58 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (21st century. I'm not a fan.)
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To: sten

BTW, although the meaning is quite clear in this article, “cleave” is an interesting English word in that it can mean two opposing things — a man and woman can cleave together, or a crystalline structure can be neatly cleaved into predictable shapes.

9 posted on 08/04/2013 6:40:15 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (21st century. I'm not a fan.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

yea, wind energy is a nonstarter and a great way to siphon money from the taxpayer into contributors (and legislators) pockets

real energy solutions don’t have down times.

why anyone listens to these people is beyond me

10 posted on 08/04/2013 6:44:02 PM PDT by sten (fighting tyranny never goes out of style)
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