Research Project Highlight

Optically Induced In-Situ Growth of Nanoparticles in Polymer Matrices

optically induced in-situ growth of nanoparticles in polymer matricesWe have developed a process to pattern polymer matrix nanocomposites (PMNCs) using a chemical vapor deposition method combined with continuous wave laser exposure.  Nanoparticles embedded within an optically clear polymer matrix exhibit highly absorptive optical cross sections.  When exposed to laser light, these particles undergo a rapid rise in temperature due to photothermal heating, which in turn creates a locally-heated region in the areas of the PMNC exposed to laser light.

In our most recent experiment, we placed an Ag-FEP polymer matrix nanocomposite in a reaction vessel with vaporized Palladium(II) acetylacetonate and selectively exposed the PMNC to a 532nm Nd:YAG continuous wave laser. We observed the growth of nanoparticles in the exposed region, demonstrating the validity of this method to pattern PMNCs. Further experiments are planned to expand and pattern the laser beam with optical masks as well as add an exposure feedback mechanism to prevent runaway heating by uncontrolled nanoparticle growth.

The goal of the project is to use this property to induce localized thermal decomposition of organometallic molecules around the nanoparticles when they are exposed to high-energy ultrafast lasers.

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