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Guide to Nanomixing

Abstract

This white paper presents an overview of mixing technologies employed in the dispersion of nano-sized solid particles into liquid. As major developments continue to unfold in the multi-disciplinary field of nanotechnology, new mixing applications and processing challenges arise. The aim of this paper is to provide practical information on the efficient use of specialty mixing equipment for the preparation of low, medium and high viscosity nanodispersions.

Introduction

Research into new-generation nano-sized materials has been expanding and uncovering interesting potential uses. More and more manufacturers are reacting and applying nanotechnology into their existing products and this trend is expected to continue. From coatings and cosmetics to fabrics and fuel cells, a growing number of consumer products are being spiked, so to speak, with doses of nanoparticles to enhance material properties or provide new functionalities.

Nanomaterials are structures the size of 100 nanometers or smaller in at least one dimension. To put that scale into context, consider that human hair is approximately 80,000 nanometers in diameter. Or imagine that a nanoparticle is the size of a football this makes a virus the size of a person!

It is precisely due to their size and structure that nanomaterials exhibit novel physical, chemical, and biological properties. The increase in surface area to volume ratio translates to exponentially more atoms at or near the surface of the particle, providing more sites for bonding or reaction with surrounding materials. Put simply, particles in the nanoscale behave very differently than larger particles of the same substance.

Indeed, the deepening interest in nanomaterials is justified by the broad range of applications. For instance, the incorporation of nanofillers into a polymer matrix makes the compound even stronger, harder or chemically resistant than today's engineered composites. Carbon nanotubes added to aircraft components, electronics and sports equipment give rise to enhanced electrical and thermal conductivity, as well as excellent mechanical load bearing capacity. Nanopigments increase transparency, gloss, smoothness as well as resistance to oxidation and UV radiation. Metallic nanoparticles (zinc, silver and gold) are utilized for their electrical and magnetic properties. These particles also exhibit catalytic behavior making them suitable for antibacterial applications.