Surface-Functionalized Boron Nanoparticles with Reduced Oxide Content by Nonthermal Plasma Processing for Nanoenergetic Applications

Prawal P.K. Agarwal, Devon Jensen, Chien Hua Chen, Robert M. Rioux, Themis Matsoukas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The development of an in situ nonthermal plasma technology improved the oxidation and energy release of boron nanoparticles. We reduced the native oxide layer on the surface of boron nanoparticles (70 nm) by treatment in a nonthermal hydrogen plasma, followed by the formation of a passivation barrier by argon plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) using perfluorodecalin (C10F18). Both processes occur near room temperature, thus avoiding aggregation and sintering of the nanoparticles. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), high-angular annular dark-field imaging (HAADF)-scanning TEM (STEM)-energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) demonstrated a significant reduction in surface oxide concentration due to hydrogen plasma treatment and the formation of a 2.5 nm thick passivation coating on the surface due to PECVD treatment. These results correlated with the thermal analysis results, which demonstrated a 19% increase in energy release and an increase in metallic boron content after 120 min of hydrogen plasma treatment and 15 min of PECVD of perfluorodecalin. The PECVD coating provided excellent passivation against air and humidity for 60 days. We conclude in situ nonthermal plasma reduction and passivation lead to the amelioration of energy release characteristics and the storage life of boron nanoparticles, benefits conducive for nanoenergetic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6844-6853
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 10 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science


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