A catalyst in ten minutes
Catalysts, batteries and solar cells. Thanks to nanotechnology, their efficiency and efficiency will increase drastically. This is not least due to VSPARTICLE who has developed a machine that can produce, transport and immobilize a nanoparticle of any desired metal in any desired composition within ten minutes. This saves researchers months, if not years, of work and supports the transition to a sustainable society.
The best way to understand a nanoparticle is by comparing it with human behaviour. Someone who is alone in a room can be himself completely. As soon as someone enters, his behaviour changes. How depends on whether it is a friend or a stranger. If someone new is coming in, the behaviour will be influenced again. This continues until the number or type of people no longer matters and a new balance is created.
This also applies to metals such as gold, copper and silver. The properties of one gold atom are different from two or five or ten thousand, and different when a silver atom is bound. The electrical or thermal conductivity, chemical activity, density or magnetic character will always change. Up to about 10,000 atoms: about 5 nm in diameter.
So, if you can split metals into separate atoms, you can produce new materials; building blocks with new, desired physical properties. And that is what VSPARTICLE does with inorganic, ‘dead’ materials: they make the periodic table three-dimensional.
The VSP-G1 nanoparticle generator works according to the principle of Spark Ablation (‘spark machining’). By generating an electric spark between two electrodes of copper or silver, a plasma is created locally with a temperature of up to 20,000 K. At this temperature, material evaporates into separate atoms. In the vaporized metal gas cloud, the atoms clump together again. The clustered particles are transported and stored on the substrate in the right place. The power of VSPARTICLE is to control, understand and manage this integral process.
The production, transport, measurements and immobilization take place in a fully automatic continuous process. A researcher does not have to know about nanotechnology. He only has to press a button and ten minutes later the right nanoparticle is in the right place.
VSPARTICLE was founded in 2014 as a spin-off from TU Delft. In 2017 it already supplied machines worldwide to research institutes. The ambition is to fully integrate the technology into industrial processes.
The VSP-G1 generator is a huge step forward for the development of model catalysts. Although chemists have been working at the nanoscale for years, it takes blood, sweat and tears to produce a catalyst through chemical synthesis that is more selective and has a higher degree of conversion. Instead of testing 2-3 catalysts researchers can test one thousand model catalysts with this machine within 4 years.
Sustainable energy and health
VSPARTICLE promises time savings, efficiency increase and material savings for all hardware-related processes, such as faster charging batteries, solar cells with higher efficiency or more effective treatment of tumors.