UCLA researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have invented a novel method to concentrate nanoparticles (NPs) into metal crystals via zone melting.
Materials that contain high volume dispersed NPs can offer unusual mechanical, physical, and chemical properties for a variety of applications, including electronics, catalysis, energy, and lightweight materials for automobiles and aircraft. Normally, a low volume percentage of NPs (< 1-2 vol%) can be dispersed by most methods, such as ultrasonic, evaporation, or condensation. However, it is difficult to obtain a high-volume percentage (≥ 5 vol%) NPs in solidified materials, such as metals. Zone refining/melting is a well-established technique for crystal purification, but has never been used to concentrate NPs in molten materials before they are solidified. Solids with a high-volume percentage of NPs can be used for countless applications, but improvements to their synthesis and scalability must first be further developed.
Researchers led by Professor Xiaochun Li have developed a novel method to improve the concentration of metal NPs (> 5 vol%) into a solid material by utilizing zone directional melting. Moreover, multi-cycles can be used to achieve a higher concentration of NPs in the final solid. This innovative method is easy to setup, can be readily used for mass production, and will have widespread applications in solidification nanoprocessing.
Nanoparticle/metal solid materials have been successfully fabricated and their mechanical and physical properties have been tested.
Nanoparticles, NPs, zone melting, directional melting, mass production, electronics, catalysis, energy, lightweight materials, nanocomposite, nanoprocessing