Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Strong Freestanding Nanoparticle Films Created Without Fillers

Date:
June 19, 2009
Source:
Vanderbilt University
Summary:
Nanoparticle films are no longer a delicate matter: Physicists have now found a way to make them strong enough so they don't disintegrate at the slightest touch.

Image of the surface of an iron oxide nanoparticle film made with an atomic force microscope that shows individual nanoparticles.
Credit: Image courtesy of Dickerson Lab, Vanderbilt University

Nanoparticle films are no longer a delicate matter: Vanderbilt physicists have found a way to make them strong enough so they don’t disintegrate at the slightest touch.

In the last 25 years, ever since scientists figured out how to create nanoparticles – ultrafine particles with diameters less than 100 nanometers – they have come up with a number of different methods to mold them into thin films which have a variety of interesting potential applications ranging from semiconductor fabrication to drug delivery, solid state lighting to flexible television and computer displays.

Until now these films have had a common problem: lack of cohesion. Nanoparticles typically consist of an inorganic core coated with a thin layer of organic molecules. These particles are not very sticky so they don’t form coherent thin films unless they are encapsulated in a polymer coating or mixed with molecules called chemical “cross-linkers” that act like glue to stick the nanoparticles together.

“Adding this extra material can complicate the fabrication of nanoparticle films and make them more expensive. In addition, the added material, usually a polymer, can modify the physical properties that make these films so interesting,” says James Dickerson, assistant professor of physics at Vanderbilt, who headed the research group that created the freestanding nanoparticle films without any additives.

The properties of the new films and the method that the researchers use to create them is described in the article “Sacrificial layer electrophoretic deposition of freestanding multilayered nanoparticle films” published online in the journal Chemical Communications on May 27, 2009.

“Our films are so resilient that we can pick them up with a pair of tweezers and move them around on a surface without tearing,” says Dickerson. “This makes it particularly easy to put them into microelectronic devices, such as computer chips.”

Dickerson considers the most straightforward applications for his films to be in semiconductor manufacturing to aid in the continued miniaturization of digital circuitry and in the production of flexible television and computer screens.

A key component in the transistors in integrated circuits is an insulating layer that separates the gate, which turns current flow on and off, from the channel through which the current flows. Traditionally, semiconductor manufacturers have used silicon dioxide for this purpose. As transistors have shrunk, however, they have been forced to make this layer thinner and thinner until they reached the point where electrons leak through and sap the power from the device. This has led semiconductor manufacturers to retool their process to use “high-k” dielectric materials, such as hafnium oxide, because they have much higher electrical resistance.

“We have made high-k nanoparticle films that could be cheaper and more effective than the high-k materials the manufacturers are currently using,” Dickerson says.

In addition, the physicist argues that the films have properties that make them ideal for flexible television and computer screens. They are very flexible and don’t show any signs of cracking when they are flexed repeatedly. They are also made using a technique called electrophoretic deposition (EPD) that is well suited for creating patterned material and is compatible with fluorescent materials that can form the red, green and blue pixels used in flat panel television screens and computer displays.

EDP is a wet method. Nanoparticles are placed in a solution along with a pair of electrodes. When an electric current is applied, it creates an electrical field in the liquid that attracts the nanoparticles, which coat the electrodes. Using colloids, mixtures with particles 10 to 1,000 times larger than nanoparticles, EDP is widely used to apply coatings to complex metal parts such as automobile bodies, prosthetic devices, appliances and beverage containers. It is only recently that researchers like Dickerson have begun applying the technique to nanoparticles.

“The science of colloidal EDP is well known but the particles are substantially larger than the solvent molecules. Many nanoparticles, however, are about the same size as the solvent molecules, which makes the process considerably more complicated and difficult to control,” Dickerson explains.

To get the method to work, in fact, Dickerson and his colleagues had to invent of new form of EDP, which they call sacrificial layer electrophoretic deposition. They added a spun-cast layer of polymer to the electrodes that serves as a pattern that organizes the nanoparticles as they are deposited. Then, after the deposition process is completed, they dissolve (sacrifice) the polymer layer to free the nanoparticle film.

According to the researchers, films made in this fashion stick together because the electrical field slams the nanoparticles into the film with sufficient force to pack the particles together tightly enough to allow naturally attractive inter-particle forces to bind the particles together.

So far the Dickerson group has used the technique to make films out of two different types of nanoparticles – iron oxide and cadmium selenide – and they believe the technique can be used with a wide variety of other nanoparticles.

“The technique is liberating because you can make these films from the materials you want and use them where you want,” Dickerson says.

The co-authors on the paper are graduate students Saad A. Hasan and Dustin W. Kavich. The research was funded by a grant from Vanderbilt University.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University. "Strong Freestanding Nanoparticle Films Created Without Fillers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609124610.htm>.
Vanderbilt University. (2009, June 19). Strong Freestanding Nanoparticle Films Created Without Fillers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609124610.htm
Vanderbilt University. "Strong Freestanding Nanoparticle Films Created Without Fillers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609124610.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins