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Nanoparticles in chemistry and their industrial applications

P. Maestro, Y. Bomal and T. Chopin

cerium oxide, silica, zirconium phosphate, reinforcement, catalysis

Micro- and nanotechnologies are at the centre of numerous investigations and huge investments, essentially in the areas of information technologies and health care . The technologies utilised mainly take advantage of microelectronics and/or rather sophisticated “physical” techniques (laser ablation, PVD, ..).
On the other hand, chemistry has anticipated for long the importance of decreasing the size in the search for new properties of materials, and of materials structured at the nanosize in a number of applications related to daily life.
Today, based on research initiated in the late 80s, we are mastering industrially the synthesis of particles in a range of sizes from 5 to 100s of nanometres and their functionalisation for adaptation to use in specific application media.
Coupling the skills in mineral synthesis, organic synthesis, physical-chemistry of complex media, and physics of materials, has been the key for the success of these developments.
Three main examples illustrating these achievements and will be presented :
- silicas for the reinforcement of mechanical properties of elastomers,
- cerium oxides as additives in the depollution of diesel engines,
- lamellar zirconium phosphates (alpha form) as reinforcing and gas-barrier agents in thermoplastics .
Some examples of other areas of application currently under development will also be illustrated.

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