Making Nanostructured Porous Hollow Spheres with Tunable Structure

Tech ID: 24582 / UC Case 2011-800-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering have developed a novel method of preparing inorganic nanospheres with porous hollow interiors.


Fuel cells are a promising alternative to combustion and are one of the cleanest and most efficient technologies for generating electricity, with the market for fuel cell electrodes and electrocatalysts of over $430 million in 2017. In these cells, the most effective catalysts for converting oxygen and hydrogen into electricity are platinum-based, resulting in prohibitively high costs and limiting their applications. One approach is to prepare novel catalysts that use less platinum and/or exhibit higher activity, such as nanocatalysts or alloys, in order to decrease costs.


Professor Lu and coworkers have developed a novel aerosol-based method for preparing nanostructured spherical particles with porous hollow interiors. To produce well-ordered spheres, materials such as organic ligands are used as permanent or removable structural templates. This approach can be applied to a variety of elemental metals, including nickel and platinum, in order to synthesize particles with tunable properties. These nanospheres with high surface area and internal void volumes have wide applications in catalysis, sensing, energy conversion and storage, and drug delivery.


  • Catalysis 
  • Fuel cells 
  • Energy storage devices 
  • Solar cells 
  • Drug delivery


  • Lower cost catalyst (lower platinum requirements) 
  • Platform technology for various elemental metals 
  • Tunable properties 
  • Structural organic ligands can be removed after fabrication

State Of Development

Metal nanoparticles have been demonstrated using nickel, platinum, palladium, and copper. Ni particles demonstrate increased hydrogen storage capability.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 9,573,194 02/21/2017 2011-800
United States Of America Issued Patent 8,840,816 09/23/2014 2011-800
United States Of America Issued Patent 8,728,361 05/20/2014 2011-800
China Published Application 102309950A 01/11/2012 2011-800

Additional Patent Pending

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  • Lu, Yunfeng

Other Information


Metal-carbon composites, metal-organic ligand, porous, hollow, spherical nanostructure, aerosol

Categorized As