Coating Process Boosts Surface Area of Nickel Nanoparticles | AIChE

An inadvertent discovery may open up new doors for advanced nickel catalysts.

Researchers testing silica coatings on nickel nanoparticles unexpectedly discovered that their technique creates a tiny core of oxidized nickel surrounded by even smaller oxidized nickel nanoparticles embedded in silica. Joseph Tracy, a professor of materials science at North Carolina State Univ., and NCSU doctoral student Brian Lynch believe these silica-nickel nanoparticles could have potential uses in catalysis.

“The really incredible part of this is how reproducible these results are and how uniform these silica-overcoated nickel nanoparticles are in each batch,” Lynch says.

Tracy and Lynch did not set out to improve catalysts. Their research focused on nanoparticle conversion chemistry, whereby performing chemical reactions on nanoparticles can change their shape, size, and structure. This can be useful for tuning nanoparticle properties.

Oxidation of metal nanoparticles, especially nickel, has been a frequent area of study for Tracy’s group. Silica shells were also of interest, he says, because they can chemically and thermally stabilize nanoparticles...

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