Nanoparticles Double Their Chances of Getting Into Sticky Situations

Feb 16, 2009
Nanoparticles Double Their Chances of Getting Into Sticky Situations
Stefan Bon and David Cheung with an image from their paper

(PhysOrg.com) -- Chemistry researchers at the University of Warwick have found that tiny nanoparticles could be twice as likely to stick to the interface of two non mixing liquids than previously believed. This opens up a range of new possibilities for the uses of nanoparticles in living cells, polymer composites, and high-tech foams, gels, and paints. The researchers are also working on ways of further artificially enhancing this new found sticking power.

In a paper entitled "Interaction of nanoparticles with ideal liquid-liquid interfaces" just published in Physical Review Letters the University of Warwick researchers reviewed molecular simulations of the interaction between a non-charged nanoparticle and an "ideal" liquid-liquid interface. They were surprised to find that very small nanoparticles (of around 1 to 2 nanometres) varied considerably in their simulated ability to stick to such interfaces from what was expected in the standard model.

The researchers found that it took up to 50 percent more energy to dislodge the particles from the liquid-liquid interface for the smallest particle sizes. However as the radius of the particles increased this deviation from the standard model gradually faded out.

The researchers, Dr ir Stefan A. F. Bon and Dr David L. Cheung, believe that previous models failed to take into account the action of "capillary waves" in their depiction of the nanoparticles behaviour at the liquid to liquid interfaces.

Dr ir Stefan A. F. Bon said

"This new understanding on the nano-scale gives us much more flexibility in the design of everything from high-tech composite materials, to the use of quantum dots, cell biochemistry, and the manufacture of new "armored" polymer paint particles."

The researchers are now working on ways to build on this newly found natural stickiness of nanoparticles by designing polymer nanoparticles with opposing hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces that will bind even more strongly at oil/water liquid interfaces.

Provided by University of Warwick

Explore further: Imaging electric charge propagating along microbial nanowires

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How, when, and why industrial ecology is good for business

7 hours ago

Industrial ecology, a rapidly growing field focused on sustainable production and consumption, has contributed numerous important tools to modern environmental management—life cycle assessment; "industrial symbiosis," or ...

Dispelling a misconception about Mg-ion batteries

6 hours ago

Lithium (Li)-ion batteries serve us well, powering our laptops, tablets, cell phones and a host of other gadgets and devices. However, for future automotive applications, we will need rechargeable batteries ...

Biological sample prep time cut from days to minutes

Oct 15, 2014

When Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers invented the field of biological accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) in the late 1980s, the process of preparing the samples was time-consuming and ...

Recommended for you

Energy storage of the future

16 hours ago

Personal electronics such as cell phones and laptops could get a boost from some of the lightest materials in the world.

User comments : 0