New process to make nanospheres could enable advances across multiple industries (w/video)
(Nanowerk News) A patent-pending technology to produce nanospheres developed by a research team at North Dakota State University, Fargo, could enable advances across multiple industries, including electronics, manufacturing, and biomedical sectors.
The environmentally-friendly process produces polymer-based nanospheres (tiny microscopic particles) that are uniform in size and shape, while being low-cost and easily reproducible. The process developed at NDSU allows scale-up of operation to high production levels, without requiring specialized manufacturing equipment.
The environmentally-friendly process oxidizes ozone in water to produce polymer-based nanospheres, ranging from 70 to 400 nanometers in diameter, that are uniform in size and shape, stay suspended in solution, and are easily removed using a centrifuge. The scanning electron microscopy image depicts the uniform spherical morphology of these nanospheres.
A 3 a.m. Eureka! moment
Dr. Victoria Gelling, associate professor in the Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials at NDSU, had a “Eureka!” moment when she woke early one morning – 3 a.m., to be precise, an hour when most of us are still sleeping. Dr. Gelling used early morning creativity to imagine a new way to oxidize monomers, which are relatively small and simple molecules, into polymers, which are larger, more complex molecules that can be used to create synthetic materials. Dr. Gelling hypothesized that oxidizing ozone in water might accomplish this task.
Later that day in the lab, Dr. Gelling and her team tested the hypothesis. On the first try, they created a suspension of nearly perfectly rounded, uniformly-sized nanospheres, ranging from 70 to 400 nanometers in diameter. In addition to their uniform size, the nanospheres stay suspended in the solution, and are easily removed using a centrifuge.
“The synthesis of the nanospheres is rather simple, with no other chemicals required other than water, ozone, and the small molecules which will become the polymers,” said Dr. Gelling. “We also have tight control of the size, as they are beautiful, perfect marbles.”
Given their uniform size and shape, the nanospheres could have uses across multiple industries. According to Dr. Gelling, such nanospheres could be used to:
Produce high-performance electronic devices and energy-efficient digital displays
Create materials with high conductivity and smaller parts for consumer electronics
Deliver medicine directly to diseased cells in the body
Provide antibacterial coating on dressing for wounds
Develop nanosensors to aid in early disease detection
Create coatings that provide increased protection against corrosion and abrasion
A brief video describing the NDSU-developed nanospheres.
The process to develop nanospheres discovered at NDSU’s Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials was developed with support under Grant Number W911NF-09-2-0014, awarded by the U. S. Army Research Office.
NDSU’s research team for this technology includes Dr. Victoria Gelling, graduate research assistant Abhijit Jagnnath Suryawanshi, Omerga, MS, India; Chris Vetter, MS ’11, Moorhead, Minn., and Jessica Lamb, Fargo, N.D., now a graduate student at Cornell University.
The patent pending nanospheres technology is available for licensing/partnering through the NDSU Research Foundation. Contact 701-231-8173 or [email protected]