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Size-Controlled Flow Synthesis of Gold Nanoparticles Using a Segmented Flow Microfluidic Platform

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journal contribution
posted on 01.05.2012, 00:00 authored by Victor Sebastian Cabeza, Simon Kuhn, Amol A. Kulkarni, Klavs F. Jensen
Segmented flow is often used in the synthesis of nanomaterials to achieve narrow particle size distribution. The narrowness of the distribution is commonly attributed to the reduced dispersion associated with segmented flows. On the basis of the analysis of flow fields and the resulting particle size distribution, we demonstrate that it is the slip velocity between the two fluids and internal mixing in the continuous-phase slugs that govern the nature of the particle size distribution. The reduction in the axial dispersion has less impact on particle growth and hence on the particle size distribution. Synthesis of gold nanoparticles from HAuCl4 with rapid reduction by NaBH4 serves as a model system. Rapid reduction yields gold nuclei, which grow by agglomeration, and it is controlled by the interaction of the nuclei with local flow. Thus, the difference in the physical properties of the two phases and the inlet flow rates ultimately control the particle growth. Hence, a careful choice of continuous and dispersed phases is necessary to control the nanoparticle size and size distribution.