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Nanoparticles Double Their Chances Of Getting Into Sticky Situations, And Boost Potential Uses

Date:
February 25, 2009
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
Researchers 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.

Stefan Bon (left) David Cheung right with image from their paper.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Warwick

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.

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.

The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cheung et al. Interaction of Nanoparticles with Ideal Liquid-Liquid Interfaces. Physical Review Letters, 2009; 102 (6): 066103 DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.066103

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Nanoparticles Double Their Chances Of Getting Into Sticky Situations, And Boost Potential Uses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090216092941.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2009, February 25). Nanoparticles Double Their Chances Of Getting Into Sticky Situations, And Boost Potential Uses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090216092941.htm
University of Warwick. "Nanoparticles Double Their Chances Of Getting Into Sticky Situations, And Boost Potential Uses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090216092941.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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