The direct writing and focusing of nanoparticles generated by an electrical discharge
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Direct writing aims to deposit materials onto substrates in localised positions. In this paper, we demonstrate a new method for direct writing of nanoparticles at ambient-air-pressure. An electrical discharge is used to generate gold nanoparticles of the order of 10 nm diameter, which are then transported and ‘focused’ by an electric field in air, through the process of electric field-assisted diffusion, as opposed to normal ballistic focusing since the mean free path in air is very short. This process is novel and allows for practical normal atmospheric-pressure focused deposition of nanoparticles. The focusing mechanism is capable of producing patterned arrays of deposited nanoparticles with widths that are less than 10 % of the diameter of the focusing apparatus; in the present experimental configuration, gold spots with diameters of a few tens of micrometres were achieved, with ultimate size being limited by transverse diffusion and by charged particle mutual repulsion. In this study, the process of generating nanoparticles from bulk material, transporting and focusing these particles takes place in one operation, which is a key advantage in rapid prototyping and manufacturing techniques.
KeywordsDirect writing Electrical discharge Generating nanoparticles Focusing Nanoparticles
The authors gratefully acknowledge funding support from EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) under the GlassJet Printer project, and the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Photonics at the University of Southampton, UK.
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