Skip to comments.Nanoparticle blast caught on film - Combustion could help to make minuscule matter.
Posted on 12/08/2012 9:09:00 PM PST by neverdem
A droplet of xylene containing a tin compound is ignited, and then explodes to produce uniform nanoparticles (courtesy: Ch. Rosebrock & L. Mädler, Univ. Bremen).
It was a pretty explosive premiere for a movie about a chemical reaction. A microscopic droplet drifted across the screen almost in homage to the panning gun barrel of the James Bond movies and then: bang!
Scientists watching the scene last week at a meeting of the Materials Research Society (MRS) in Boston, Massachusetts, were gripped, because the death of the droplet was also an act of creation. Lutz Mädler, a process engineer at the University of Bremen in Germany, had, for the first time, captured on camera a process that makes beautifully homogeneous metal oxide nanoparticles (see Blow up). His goal is to pave the way for faster, cheaper ways to make these fragments of matter, measuring just billionths of a metre across, which are finding uses as catalysts, medical imaging probes and more.
Mädlers presentation was part of the first MRS session ever to be dedicated to the combustion synthesis of nanoparticles. The technique aims to improve the process of making nanoparticles, which generally requires multiple, complex steps from expensive precursors. The solution, say Mädler and others, is to create the particles in bulk by simply igniting tiny droplets of precursor materials a strategy that industry has used for decades to make carbon black for tyres and silica for optic fibres.
Expand This is a field that mushroomed out of industry, and didnt have an academic following, says Sotiris Pratsinis, a process engineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. These are beautiful fundamental studies.
Mädlers work aims to overcome a key drawback of combustion synthesis: the process is little understood and tends to be...
(Excerpt) Read more at nature.com ...
The video shows two explosions, neither of which appear to produce homogenous fragments.