Plasma Microreactors: a Manufacturing Platform for Nanoscale Metal Oxides

Lead Research Organisation: University of Ulster
Department Name: School of Engineering


Transition metal oxides (TMOs) are an extraordinary class of materials that have found wide applicability for a number of century-defining technologies (e.g. flat-panel display, capacitors and energy storage) mainly due to their dielectric properties and facilitated by chemical inertness. TMOs are also conceptually simple materials with crucially important properties, they can be formed by low-cost and naturally abundant metals in combination with oxygen, therefore offering commercially attractive materials solutions. Recently, TMOs have seen a surge in application demand and research interest, which revealed their fundamental complexity and yet-to-discover application opportunities. Doping, defect engineering, quantum confinement and extending to ternary or high entropy oxides can lead to new or improved properties and can create disruptive materials. However, to achieve a step change in application performance, manufacturing precision is required at scale, which motivates the production of TMOs materials with ever increasing precision as well as the necessity to establish scalable manufacturing processes. This project will deliver a platform to synthesize TMOs materials with nanoscale precision (down to sub-10 nm scales) and atomically controlled chemical composition. A cold microplasma reactor operated at atmospheric pressure is at the core of this manufacturing technology platform which relies on the most recent 21st century plasma technology developments. The synthesis of TMOs is carried out through the interactions of a cold atmospheric pressure microplasma with a solid metal feedstock in an oxygen-containing gas, contributing to reduce waste and leading to a sustainable, zero-loss and 'greener' manufacturing technology.


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