Low Cost Nanoparticle Surface Customization using Magnetic Fields (2014-034)

Market Overview:

The combination of a weak salt solution and a large magnetic field gradient enhances self-assembly of nanoparticles and can create a customized nanoparticle surface pattern from colloidal solution. Nanoparticle detection is a $2.6 billion market that is growing at a 17 percent CAGR.  Nanoparticles play a role in many different technology sectors outside of nanotechnology, including manufacturing, diagnostics/sensors, and optics. Currently, when creating nanoparticles, the possibility of runaway aggregation exists, causing the particles to grow too big for their intended use. This particle growth requires extensive sources to ensure particle size consistency.  Clemson University Researchers have developed a nanoparticle modification that can accurately control nanoparticle size and surface pattern at a lower cost than traditional methods without the need for additional particle enhancement. 


Application                                                                                                  Stage of Development

Low cost manufacturing of optical coatings, elements, and materials        Preliminary Prototype



• Enhances self-assembly of nanoparticles, increasing the performance of field-directed surface patterning

• Eliminates the need for additional enhancement to ensure consistent particle size, providing a low cost method for high customization

• Trigger mechanism results in non-spontaneous assembly


Technical Summary

This technology enhances the self-assembly of nanoparticles in the presence of strong magnetic field gradients. By slightly modifying a colloid in solution with a weak salt “trigger,” particles begin to selectively aggregate in the presence of a magnetic force which helps drive the particles together. This slight destabilization helps create a self-assembled material in a shorter amount of time and with better fidelity than if the salt solution is not added to the colloid. The trigger is too small to effect any change in the bulk suspension stability/properties, resulting in consistent particle size at a lower cost.


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Inventors:                        Olin Thompson Mefford, Yves Cordeau, Thomas Crawford, Longfei Ye, Tanner G.



Application Type:            Utility


Serial Number:                14/535,996


CURF Reference:            2014-034


Patent Information:
Advanced Materials
For Information, Contact:
Andy Bluvas
Technology Commercialization Officer
Clemson University Research Foundation
Olin Mefford
Yves Cordeau
Thomas Crawford
Longfei Ye
Tanner Pearson
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