Nebraska Patent of the Month – March 2023
Transition metal oxides are commonly used in magnetic, optical, and electronic applications like gas sensors and UV blockers. Cerium oxide nanocrystals, in particular, are gaining prominence due to their unique redox properties and oxygen storage capacity. These crystals have a wide range of applications in various fields like biomedicine, gas sensors, fuel cells, ultraviolet absorbers, and catalysis. However, the existing synthesis techniques require elevated temperatures, high pressures, and toxic chemicals. These methods are energy-intensive and lead to a high carbon footprint.
NUtech Ventures, a technology transfer organization of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has developed a much simpler synthesis method of cerium oxide nanocrystals. Their method uses a room-temperature, facile technique for synthesizing transition metal oxides, oxynitrates, oxyhydroxides, and lanthanide-doped cerium oxide nanoparticles in the presence of ozone. This ozone-mediated synthesis of nanoparticles is a breakthrough innovation that not only eliminates the use of toxic chemicals but also reduces the energy consumption significantly.
NUtech Ventures’ ozone-mediated synthesis of cerium oxide nanocrystals is a rapid, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly technique. The synthesis method yields ceria nanocrystals of narrow size distribution, which is crucial for various applications. Short-chain alcohols like ethanol, methanol, 1-propanol, 2-propanol, or t-butanol can be used as solvents for the synthesis. The ozone-mediated synthesis technique can produce ceria nanocrystals with dimensions in the range of 2 nm to 6 nm. The ceria nanocrystals can be obtained from the first solution after the gas is provided to the first solution for a duration of less than one minute.
The ozone-mediated synthesis of ceria nanocrystals can be enhanced by recycling the ceria nanocrystals through a hydrothermal process to increase the crystallinity of the nanocrystals. This innovative method is not only eco-friendly, but it also ensures high-quality cerium oxide nanocrystals, which is essential for various applications.
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