Chemically synthesized nanomaterials (NMts) are being considered as the active elements in many applications, including, photonics, catalysis, energy, medical diagnosis and treatments. In order to achieve the promise of these applications, it will be critical to have an efficient, reproducible synthesis technique to produce the NMts. Currently, nanoparticles are synthesized in a batch mode in small volumes, which is suffering from irreproducibility and lack of NMts quality from batch to batch. Furthermore there are challenges in scaling batch procedures up to quantities needed for application development. Consequently, a new technological approach is required to assure nanotechnology feasibility.
This project takes as a goal the development of multi-functional platforms based on microfluidics (MF) to address the wet-chemistry weaknesses and restrictions of small-scale batch reactors. Basically, MF allow an exquisite control on synthesis variables. The superior reaction control in a microliter or even nanoliter volume, enable to nanoengineer NMts in a continuous production process, addressing some issues such as scaling up and reproducibility. Additionally, MF promote some valuable advantages, including enhancement of mass and heat transfer, feedback control of temperature and feed streams, safer operational environment and potential for sensor integration. A variety of MF approaches will be developed to fine tune the NMts: sequential addition, slug flow, microwave and ultrasound irradiation.
Since the applicant is a member of the highly-interdisciplinary Aragon Institute of Nanoscience, several collaborations with researchers from other areas have already been established. This enables the NMts obtained from this emerging technology to be employed in applications related not only to catalysis, which is the applicant´s main field of activity, but also in other areas such as nanocomposites and nanomedicine, where nanoparticles play a key role.
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