2007 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show - Nanotech 2007 - 10th Annual

NMR as a tool to directly measure the surface area of nanoparticulate dispersions

D. Fairhurst and T. Cosgrove
XiGo Nanotools Inc., US

surface area, NMR, dispersion

The need to determine the surface area of materials is well established. The most widely employed technique is that of gas adsorption but it is only useful for analyzing dry powders. However, the overwhelming majority of manufactured products involve suspensions of particulate materials in some fluid, either in the final state or at some stage of their production. We describe a revolutionary instrument designed to measure the surface area of nanoscale particles dispersed in a liquid. This new (patent pending) technique is based on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and it offers many advantages in comparison with conventional surface area instrumentation. The technique is based on the fact that liquid in contact with, or “bound” to, the surface of a particle behaves differently from that of the bulk or “free” liquid. The NMR relaxation time of bound versus bulk liquid is markedly different: the relaxation time of the latter is much longer. Suspensions can be measured non-invasively, without dilution. The upper limit in concentration is essentially unlimited; the lower limit is about 1-2%. The theory underpinning this new approach to surface area measurement will be discussed and examples given to illustrate its wide applicability.

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