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Greener technique for controlling nanoparticle size

Posted: 29 Apr 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:nanoparticle  graphene  vitamin C  silver 

Kwan-San Hui, professor at the department of mechanical engineering in Hanyang University, has made a breakthrough with research efficiency through process simplification. In a recent academic paper titled 'Green Synthesis of Dimension-controlled Silver Nanoparticle-graphene Oxide with in Situ Ultrasonification (2014),' he discovered what he said is an improved method of controlling the size of a nanoparticle in a simpler and ecofriendly way.

Graphene is a thin-layered nano-material composed of carbon and was discovered in 2004. The strength, heat conduction and electric conduction ability of this material is greater than existing materials. Due to this its stability as a material and capability had made it possible for scientists to apply it to other fields such as displays, memory and cellphone technologies. Among many kinds of graphene, Hui focused on the silver nanoparticle decorated graphene oxide and the way to control the size of silver on it.

The prior method of controlling nano-size composes of some toxic materials during the process and the process itself is very complicated as well. Different from past process, Hui's renewed procedure uses vitamin C to replace toxic materials. This is how the experiments are conducted: First get graphene oxide through using graphene and acids. Then in a beaker, graphene oxide, water and vitamin C are polymerised and then go into a process of ultra-sonication. After sonication, the solution results are put into various tests such as X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy and energy-dispersive spectroscopy to analyse the effect it had on the size of silver nanoparticle. The result of the experiment had demonstrated that the amount of silver nitrate and the time of sonication play a key role in determining the size.

Using non-toxic materials to control silver nanoparticle size

According to Hui, silver nanoparticles and its simplified process have many advantages to be applied to other aspects of society. Its usage is profound in medical industry as the component is included in many electronic products such as air purifiers to kill harmful bacteria. Moreover, it could be used to increase the function of sensors in auto electronics, optical fibre and electronic signals. Regarding this, the green method of Hui could be used as fundamental and prerequisite study. Presently, graphene is a material that many scientists are interested in, and this method could help the scientists with the optimisation of particles, finding the perfect size for future studies.

Kwan-San Hui

For Hui, the reason he started on conducting this research is the need of catalyst in various studies. Even though the fact that his major seems somewhat far from the thesis of academic paper, he argued that the need of catalyst is important in many other majors including his. It was a multi-disciplinary research, said Hui, and he believes that a teamed experiment with other fields such as chemical engineering could be essential in the future of the science as a whole. In fact, this paper was written with the help of other members including his brother from material engineering and also others. Hui is positive at the impact of this academic paper for now, as many scientists have shown interests in the material of graphene, and this simplified procedure could be applied widely.

Hui also shared his future research topics and words of advice not only for students but for potential researchers in the future. His prior research is along the similar line with this paper as it deals with controlling size of NI-nanoparticles, and he will now focus on even more efficient measure to save energy or simplify procedures. Specifically, energy production and storage such as supercapacitors are his next interest. A supercapacitor is a charging device, and Hui believes that the time of charging using the device could be shortened using the nano-size control methods. For him, research may be very tough. "Self-management is an imperative factor. Also, observation in daily life to find what could be improved is a must-have characteristic of a good researcher," said Hui. His voyage is not limited to his field, but it seeks a true breakthrough to a whole society with multi-disciplinary visions.

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