Silicon microelectronics and biomedical fields could benefit from a safe and cost-effective way to synthesize nanoparticles.
Oil and water do not mix, but a KAUST team has exploited the distinct interfaces between these substances to make plasma generation in liquids more efficient. This approach holds promise for high-yield synthesis of nanomaterials from liquid reagents or for controlled elimination of water-borne parasites.
Familiar versions of plasmas in neon signs and TV displays use stable, charged particles in a gaseous state. But when produced in water from nanosecond bursts of electricity, positive ions in the plasma cool down significantly compared to energetic hot electrons. The resulting non-thermal discharges are capable of transferring energy to or from surrounding molecules, making them potential influencers of chemical reactions.
Ahmad Hamdan, a postdoctoral researcher with Min Suk Cha, is working to broaden the impact of in-liquid plasmas by lowering typical breakdown voltage requirements. Initially, he and his coworkers injected tiny gas bubbles into liquids to disrupt the usual electric field and create regions of amplified intensity to rip charges apart. Unfortunately, this strategy tended to trap the hot electrons within the bubbles, isolating them from potential chemical targets.