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Technique controls nanoparticle size, makes large numbers
Date:12/4/2007

In a world that constantly strives for bigger and bigger, Washington Universitys Pratim Biswas, Ph.D., the Stifel and Quinette Jens Professor and chair of the Washington University Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, is working to make things smaller and smaller.

Biswas conducts research on nanoparticles, which are the building blocks for nanotechnology. For the first time, Biswas has shown that he can independently control the size of the nanoparticles that he makes, keeping their other properties the same. Hes also shown with his technique that the nanoparticles can be made in large quantities in scalable systems, opening up the possibility for more applications and different techniques.

Nanotechnology has far-reaching applications in microelectronics, renewable energy, and medicine, just to name a few. But the first step is synthesizing and understanding nanoparticles.

A nanoparticle is 100 nanometers and a nanometer is 1/1000 of a micrometer. To put it into perspective, a hair is about 50-100 micrometers thick.

Its difficult to imagine dividing a meter up into a million pieces and then a nanometer is a thousandth of that, explained Biswas. These are very tiny particles.

This small size is critical in the applications. By varying the size, nanoparticles can efficiently be tuned to perform a specific task, be it cosmetics or pollution clean up.

When I reduce the size of the objectthen the properties are very different. They can have certain unique properties, said Biswas. By changing the size and the crystal structure you can tune the functionality.

Fabulous Flames

To make these nanoparticles and alter their size, Biswas uses a flame aerosol reactor (FLAR). The flame provides a high temperature environment in which molecules can be assembled in a single step.

Bring the material in, react it, form the particles and then collect it and go and use it, said Biswas. '/>"/>

Contact: Pratim Biswas
pratim.biswas@wustl.edu
314-935-5482
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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