Quantitative Separation and Analysis of Nanoparticles and Hybrid Structures

Project: Research project

Project Details


In this project, analytical separation methods will be developed and applied to purify, analyze and study nanoparticles and hybrid particle structures. This work directly addresses existing challenges of understanding the role of polydispersity in nanomaterial function; reproducibility of synthetic methods; quantification of purity; and monitoring particle growth and reaction chemistry. These problems are potentially compounded in hybrid nanocrystals, including hetero-dimer, -trimer, and -oligomer particles, which are made by increasingly complex syntheses that have the potential to form multiple species in the reaction mixture in addition to the desired product. Growing interest and broad potential for use of hybrid nanostructures make it essential to develop methods for their purification and analysis. These major challenges will be addressed by applying and extending differential magnetic catch and release (DMCR) for higher resolution separation and analysis of magnetic nanoparticles and heterostructures, and for studies of nanoparticle chemical transformations, assembly, and morphology changes. Electric field separation tools will be developed in parallel, enabling the purification and analysis of non-magnetic particles. This proposed work addresses the critical need for techniques to separate small particles, in approaches that are both quantitative and scalable, and which report on differences in fundamental behavior.

A central goal is to develop and demonstrate the utility of quantitative separative analysis methodologies for a broad range of particles for both fundamental and applied areas of emerging nanotechnologies. Successful demonstration of these methods will allow quantitative assessment and validation of nanoparticle purity, which is critically needed in particular for nanomaterials intended for biomedical applications. Students working on this project are exposed to interdisciplinary research topics in nanomaterials synthesis and characterization, learn to apply a wide range of methodologies, and interact with scientists and engineers across the University and nation. As part of this project, Penn State undergraduates will have expanded educational opportunities by the incorporation of a new analytical separation experiment in the Chemistry 227 Analytical Chemistry course. An inquiry based, open-ended experiment that relates to the analytical separation of nanoparticles in this project will be developed and implemented for the students in this course.

Effective start/end date7/15/126/30/16


  • National Science Foundation: $382,000.00


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