Nov 072010
 

The OSU microreactor (left) uses microlamination architecture to produce nanoparticles more efficiently

Nanotechnology products could become much more commercially practical thanks to work being performed by engineers at Oregon State University (OSU). Using a new fabrication method, the researchers have been able to increase the production rate of nanoparticles by 500 times, while simultaneously reducing the amount of environmentally-harmful byproducts involved.

It’s definitely big news – on a tiny scale.

The OSU engineers are using a microreactor, which is a microfluidic device commonly used for nanoparticle production. What makes their device unique is its “microlamination architecture.” This involves the stacking and bonding of many thin sheets of stainless steel, each one containing thousands of microchannels, to create a “multilayered micromixer.” This results in a higher output volume than the conventional batch synthesis method, with a greater degree of control over the production process.

It had previously been thought that commercial nanoparticle production could be made possible simply by running a large number of conventional microreactors simultaneously. According to principal investigator Prof. Chih-hung Chang, however, “with all the supporting equipment you need, things like pumps and temperature controls, it really wasn’t that easy.”

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