Insight into nano

22 Sep 2014

Nanotechnology and new product development are experiencing exponential growth. Despite the amount of characterisation tools that is available for off-line analysis, it is currently not possible to monitor the synthesis nanomaterials in-line during production.

In the context of the EU In-Sight project, which ended on 1 May, new analytical tools were developed for real-time monitoring by a consortium of two research organisations and eight SMEs from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Great Britain and Israel. TNO was project coordinator.

Modular analyses instrument

The end result is now ready to be implemented: a modular analysis instrument that can monitor the key characteristics of nanoparticles, such as size, distribution, chemical composition and concentration. This enables optimal control of the production process and optimisation of the ultimate material properties.

Complementary techniques

Five complementary techniques are used to analyse these characteristics: optical microscopy and light scattering (visualising the particles in a so-called microfluidic flow cell), ultrasonic transmission spectroscopy (determining particle concentration and size) and Raman spectroscopy and LiBS (identifying the chemical composition and structure). A specially developed In-Sight software package combines the analysis results.

The behaviour of nanoparticles

The novel instrument can be used to identify the behaviour of nanoparticles during synthesis, modification and formulation (application in a product). This enhances quality, consistency and the yield of nanomaterials, while facilitating faster development of new products.

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