At VSPARTICLE, we believe that unleashing the full potential of nanoparticle technology will accelerate the discovery and development new materials by today’s academic and industrial researchers. By simplifying the preparation routes to produce nanoparticles and nano-based materials, rapid innovations within wide-ranging applications can be realised. VSPARTICLE has been developing a lab-scale nanoparticle source based on the spark ablation technology which was pioneered by co- founder,  Andreas Schmidt-Ott. To ensure the future scalability of our technology and to meet industrial production demands, VSPARTICLE are also developing an industrial particle source that is capable of producing nanoparticles on an industrially relevant scale. Our ability to apply our technologies at the lab- and industrial- scales will enable researchers to rapidly implement their pioneering discoveries within an industrial environment.

Spark ablation technology is a physics based process, generating pure particles in a very controlled setting, without the use of chemicals. Our co-founder Andreas Schmidt-Ott invented the technology in 1988 and was then developed into an easy to use device.The spark ablation process used inside the VSP-G1 Nanoparticle Generator (VSP-G1) is a purely physical process that only requires electricity, a carrier gas and electrode material to produce clean nanoparticles. No additional chemicals are required for the production or to stabilize the particles in the aerosol.

The produced nanoparticles can be directly incorporated into the next process step or applied in a product by, for example, impaction, electrostatic precipitation or filtering. This way the unique physical properties of the nanoparticles are directly available in the product. The carrier gas can simply be recirculated, minimizing the environmental impact of the process. The output is a highly concentrated aerosol of pure (metal) nanoparticles suspended in a clean gas at low temperatures (<50 °C). 

  • Physics based process
  • Start/stop at the push of a button 
  • No chemical waste 
  • Any (semi)conducting material
  • High control on particle size
  • Operates at room temperature and pressure 



     

Nanoparticle Formation

With inert carrier gases such as Ar and N2, pure metal nanoparticles are produced with surfaces free from (organic) contaminants. By generating nanoparticles on demand, VSPARTICLE allows you to incorporate nanoparticles directly into your end product without worrying about handling, storage and stability (oxidation).  The produced nanoparticles are directly incorporated into the next process step or applied in a product by, for example, impaction, electrostatic precipitation or diffusion. This way the unique physical properties of the nanoparticles are directly available in the product. The carrier gas can simply be recycled by passing it through a filter and used again, minimizing the environmental impact of the process. Because no waste streams are produced, spark ablation is uniquely suitable for integration into (existing) production processes. 

Particle growth is determined by a physical process that allows the mean size of the nanoparticles to be controlled from several atoms to tens of nanometers, by modifying flow and energy input in an intuitive manner. Because of the high temperature in the spark (>20.000K), there is no practical limit to the materials that can be processed. In the most basic form, the material is an elemental metal.  

 

With the VSP-G1 you can use any kind of (semi)conductive electrode material to prepare your nanoparticles. All solid (semi-)conductive materials that can be processed into electrodes can be used in the VSP-G1. By combining electrodes of different elements, or by employing various pre-alloyed electrodes, our VSP-G1 will enable researchers to explore a wide range of alloyed materials.

The VSP-G1 uses two electrodes as base material to generate nanoparticles with a primary particle size below 20 nm.  By adjusting the carrier gas flow and the total power output, the VSP-G1 is able to produce a stable output of clean nanoparticles with a tunable primary particle size. In combination with our deposition accessories (VSP-A series), VSP-S1 Size Selector, and VSP-P1 Nanostructure Materials Printer, VSPARTICLE’s technology portfolio provides a highly versatile solution to address the future materials challenge.

Are you interested learning more about the origins and current state-of-the-art of spark ablation, please visit our Publications page!