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Broader perspectives could advance nanoparticle manufacturing

by Prachi Patel, special to C&EN
September 3, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 35


Micrograph showing small particles.
Credit: Athena M. Keene/U.S. FDA/ACS Nano
Collaboration could help nanomaterials developers make more heterogeneous nanoparticles, such as these gold ones.

Nanoparticles have already found their way into cosmetics, medicine, and electronics, among other products. Yet manufacturing challenges keep society from reaping the technology’s full benefits. A new study indicates that by looking at nanoparticle manufacturing as a holistic venture and working together, researchers and other stakeholders could speed up the transfer of nanoparticle technologies from laboratory to market (ACS Appl. Nano Mater. 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.8b01239). A team led by Samuel Stavis at NIST emphasizes that a central challenge in manufacturing is unwanted variation in nanoparticle shape, size, and other properties. This heterogeneity increases quality-control costs. The team found that minimizing heterogeneity during early stages, such as synthesis and functionalization, reduces waste, increases yields, and makes it easier to integrate nanoparticles into products, which helps to make innovations profitable. To ensure a smooth transition from research to applications, the group encourages researchers to consider prior knowledge from other disciplines as well as challenges that others have faced at different research and development stages. The team also advocates that researchers, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and administrators coordinate efforts and share knowledge and resources.


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