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DFG Research Unit FOR2284 Model-based scalable gas-phase synthesis of complex nanoparticles
Functional materials based on inorganic nanoparticles have a great application potential. Beyond the pure variation of the chemical composition, the structure size opens new dimensions for the creation of unusual materials properties. Highly potent energy storage materials, noble metal free catalysts, efficient semiconducting light absorbers and emitters, or biocompatible materials for medical diagnostics are just a few examples of the range of applications of inorganic nanomaterials. Apart from the composition of the resulting primary particles in the synthesis process, the morphology of secondary and tertiary structures determines the practical applicability of the materials. In order to influence and utilize these structure-based properties, highly specific synthesis routes are imperative. On the basis of the primary nanoparticles, this facilitates the selective and reproducible adjustment of structure size, morphology, and structurally defined materials combinations. To be able to produce nanomaterials with the appropriate characteristics in industrially relevant quantities, the scalability of the processes must also be ensured, and this is something for which the gas-phase synthesis is particularly suitable.
This is where the vision of the Research Unit takes effect. Based on the understanding of the elementary steps of precursor chemistry, particle formation, particle-particle interaction, and in situ functionalization, design rules for synthesis processes and reactors are developed and demonstrated. These enable a targeted synthesis, modification, and structuring of nanoparticles in the gas phase. Two materials systems are examined as an example – composites based on iron and iron oxide nanoparticles and structured silicon particles and nanocomposites. As the focus of the Research Unit is on the combination of analysis, modeling, and simulation, materials and processes are sequentially investigated with an increase in complexity. Thus, at every intermediate stage, feedback with the experiment and validation of the simulations and design rules can be ensured.
The project opens up the producibility of new material variations as well as being aimed at the development of scalable processes and research-based, validated simulation methods. These are essential foundations for a reliable use of highly specific functional nanoparticle ensembles and their industrial application.