Roadmap for Bioinspired nanomaterials
Our project comes under “Frontier manufacturing”, and it is uniquely placed to bridge the gap in the UK science landscape between green chemistry, manufacturing and advanced functional materials.
Traditional methods for nanomaterials production are environmentally damaging (>1000x wasteful than fine/bulk chemicals). We aim to invent green routes for manufacturing functional nanomaterials using the bioinspired route.
Our multidisciplinary approach involves learning from biology and bringing these materials from labs to production. This project concerns with mainly silica and maganetite nanomaterials and focuses on Stage 2 and 3 of the process, which are represented in the following Themes.
Theme 1: Understanding Particle formation pathways
We aim to attain fundamental understanding of the nanomaterials formation pathways, self-assembly processes and their influence on resulting nanomaterials properties.
Green Chemistry Principles
Nanomaterial (particle) formation pathways
We are addressing the following challenges in Theme 1 to realize our goal.
1. Clustering and self-assembly:
Clustering of the nanomaterial precursor and the Syn-Bio additive affects nanomaterial formation and it properties. Thermodynamic models are being developed by the team at the University of Edinburgh, led by Dr. Martin Sweatman to undertsand these colloidal cluster formation pathways. More information about Martin's research can be found here.
These models will be refined further by gathering experimental data. Experimental determination of cluster size and concentration will be carried out using Brownian microscopy (BM), dynamic light scattering (DLS) and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). This work is being carried out by Prof-Jan Sefcik at the University of Strathclyde. Click here for further information.
Relevant References: M.B. SWEATMAN, R. Fartaria and L. Lue, 'Cluster formation in fluids with competing short-range and long-range interactions', J. Chem. Phys. 140, 124508 (2014).
2. Effects of flow and mixing:
Flow conditions have a strong influence on growth and aggregation processes. The Lattice-Boltzmann method will be utilized for this purpose and the fluid flow modelling will be lead by by Dr. Timm Krueger based at the University of Edinburgh. Further information on this topic can be obtained here.
The model will be experimentally validated by measuring particle size and shape distributions across a wide range of shear rates and solid loading using a bespoke Couette flow cell test bench developed at Strathclyde. In addition particle size-distributions will be measured using DLS and SAXS.
Equilibrium cluster formation
Fluid flow modelling of dense suspensions
Theme 2: Product Design
The challenge in this theme is to design scalable synthesis by specifying SynBio-additive chemistry and synthetic conditions to produce desired products as they strongly influence the resulting nanomaterial properties. The aim is to develop optimum conditions for producing desired properties (“dial-a-property”) and test the fully characterised nanomaterials for applications with our industrial partners.
1. Designing scalable SynBio synthesis:
For silica nanoparticles where synthetic Synbio additives are known to us, we will systematically investigate the reaction space by carefully varying process conditions such as for e.g.concentrations of precursors and additives, additive chemistry, reaction time and pH. This work is being led by Dr. Siddharth Patwardhan at the University of Sheffield. Further information can be obtained here.
Information on the effects of the SynBio additive concentrations and chemistries on the clustering, growth and aggregation processes obtained by above Thermodynamic and fluid flow modelling will be important in refining the process conditions.
For scale-up of Magnetic nanoparticles, we need to develop cheaper synthetic additives to replace expensive proteins currently used at lab-scale. A rational design approach will be adopted which will be guided by our previous knowledge on SynBio methods. Exploring the process conditions will follow on similar lines as that of the silica nanoparticles. Dr. Sarah Staniland based at the University of Sheffield is leading this aspect of the project. Additional information can be found here.
Theme 3: Scale-up and Manufacturing
The relationships between nano-particle formation pathways, fluid dynamics and nanomaterial properties are scale-dependent, but unknown. The challenge in this Theme is to validate the scaling laws and apply them to larger systems.
The knowledge of clustering, optimized synthetic conditions, scaling laws and population balance models, all studied at small scales in the previous themes, will be validated at larger scales. This work will be carried out at the University of Sheffield led by Dr. Siddharth Patwardhan and Dr. Sarah Staniland.
Considerations for Product Deisgn
Silica nanopartciles above and Magnetic nanoparticles (below)