Nanoparticle Coated Substrates for Increasing Rates of Chemical Reactions with Laser Irradiation

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The components of a system according to one exemplary embodiment of the invention for the convert of energy of the photons provided by a laser beam from a laser source is absorbed by a metal nanoparticle supported on a polymeric bead and converted into heat
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Researchers
Qun Huo, Ph.D.
Hui-Chuan Cheng
Jianhua Zou
Managed By
Andrea Adkins
Assistant Director 407.823.0138
Patent Protection

Laser irradiation of metal nanoparticle/polymer composite materials for chemical and physical transformations

US Patent 7,973,094 B2
Publications
Photophysical, Photochemical and Photocatalytic Aspects of Metal Nanoparticles
Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2002, 106, 7729

Methods, apparatus and systems for coating nanoparticles to a polymer support and irradiating the coated support with a laser to transfer heat/energy to materials in chemical mixtures thereby serving as that reactions catalyst.

Chemical synthesis is one of the largest, most profitable businesses in the world. The creation of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, polymers and plastics are all examples of chemical synthesis. One of the most important factors in a chemical reaction is the rate at which said reaction occurs. If a process takes several days or longer, it may increase cost and thus reduce the likelihood of commercial applications. The use of high temperatures is one of the most common ways to increase the rate of a reaction. This often involves heating large volumes of reactants (from a few liters to several hundred), for prolonged periods of time. The main problem with this approach is the large energy investment required to bring a solution to the proper temperature (often near or over 100º Celsius). Simpler, safer and less energy intensive means of increasing reaction rates would thus prove extremely profitable and revolutionary to the field of chemistry.

Technical Details

Scientists at UCF have devised a material synthesis method to heat solutions, by transferring energy from a laser to a substrate coated with functionalized nanoparticles (preferably gold) and immersed in solutions. Nanoparticles are coated on either spherical or strip-like substrates. These substrates can be introduced into a broad variety of chemical reactions, such as: decomposition, isomerization or other unimolecular or bi-molecular reactions. After introducing the substrate to the reaction, an efficient, hand-held laser is trained upon the nanoparticles in solution. The nanoparticles absorb the laser’s energy and transfer it to the molecules of the reaction, thereby initiating and increasing the reaction rate. This invention eliminates the need for hot plates, heating mantles, hot water condensers and any other cooling devices, all while the solutions are kept at room temperature, therefore increasing the safety, efficiency and convenience of the reactions. Since the nanoparticles efficiently transfer the energy received from the laser into the reaction, there is little decomposition of the catalyst and once the reaction is done the nanoparticle coated substrate is easily filtered from the mixture. This method reduces costs and materials for typical chemical reactions, as well as improving previous attempts at using nanoparticles to enhance reaction rates at room temperature. These materials and methods could significantly improve the efficiency of thermo polymer based chemical reactions in industrial and pharmaceutical applications.

Benefits

  • Significantly reduced energy costs
  • Reduced equipment cost
  • Increased reaction speeds at lower cost
  • Shorter production schedules
  • Only a low power hand held laser is needed for heating the reactions
  • Increased safety and convenience for employees

Applications

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Optics and lasers