The generation of copper, nickel, and copper-nickel alloy nanoparticles by spark discharge was studied, using different bespoke alloy feedstocks. Roughly spherical particles with a primary particle Feret diameter of 2–10 nm were produced and collected in agglomerate form. The copper-to-nickel ratios determined by Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), and therefore averaged over a large number of particles, matched the nominal copper content quite well. Further investigations showed that the electrode compositions influenced the evaporation rate and the primary particle size. The evaporation rate decreased with increasing copper content, which was found to be in good accordance with the Llewellyn-Jones model. However, the particle diameter was increasing with an increasing copper content, caused by a decrease in melting temperature due to the lower melting point of copper. Furthermore, the alloy compositions on the nanoscale were investigated via EDX. The nanoparticles exhibited almost the same composition as the used alloy feedstock, with a deviation of less than 7 percentage points. Therefore, no segregation could be detected, indicating the presence of a true alloy even on the nanoscale.
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The authors would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Gábor Galbács from the University of Szeged/Hungary for the ICP-MS measurements and to PD Dr. rer. nat. habil. Reinhard Schneider from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) for the EDX measurements.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme under Grant Agreement No. 280765 (BUONAPART-E).
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