Particle Surface Modification
There is an interest in functionalizing high surface area fine particles by controlling their surface chemistry while maintaining bulk properties. A powerful method co-invented/developed in the lab is to use atomic layer deposition (ALD) to deposit nearly perfect ultrathin nano-thick films at angstrom level precision onto primary particles. The current focus in the lab includes developing a fundamental understanding of the fluidized bed reactor process used to carry out the coating and improving th process as well as expanding the applications. Challenges include operation under reduced pressure and the ability to fluidize nano-particles. Alcohols are being investigated in lieu of water to investigate the effect of related surface functional groups for both reaction and reducing agglomeration of the particles during processing. Furthermore, studies include the use of microjets to aid in the fluidization of nano-particle processing. Applications vary and include catalysis, micro-electronic devices, pigments, sunscreen materials, nuclear materials, separations media, printed inks and the development of porous thin films with angstrom control of pore diameter. Students in the lab have pioneered Particle ALD innovation and have been recognized with cover articles in Nanotechnology, best dissertation awards in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Best Ph.D. in Particle Technology Award by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
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