05 Jun 2012
German start-up spun out of Laser Zentrum Hannover signs agreement with US-based Strem Chemicals.
Particular GmbH, a spin-out company from Laser Zentrum Hannover that uses lasers to make high-purity metal nanoparticles, has agreed a worldwide distribution deal with the specialty chemicals firm Strem Chemicals.
Massachusetts-based Strem will sell the metal nanoparticles worldwide on an exclusive basis, to customers who are engaged in nanotechnology research and development work.
Particular CEO and co-founder Niko Bärsch told optics.org that the company already has non-exclusive sales partners in Japan and Korea, but that the deal with Strem covered specific materials – and currently only metals.
“This exclusivity is restricted to these metals, and to sample lot sizes for research and development (up to 100 milliliters),” he explained.
The process developed by Particular uses a Trumpf 50 W picosecond laser and a 200 W nanosecond laser, and at its current capacity the company is able to provide more than one hundred liters per week.
“Since Strem focuses on the sales of sample sizes for R&D, capacities are currently not a bottleneck,” Bärsch said.
High purity; highly active surfaces
Based on physical ablation, the process is very different to the conventional methods of chemical synthesis more typically used to manufacture nanomaterials.
But the key advantage is that the materials are produced in either pure water or an organic solvent. With no chemical reagents needed, the process delivers “ligand-free” particles that are said to be both of high purity and to provide a highly active surface.
In a statement publicizing the agreement, Strem COO Ephraim Honig explained why that is important: “The higher reactivity and lower toxicity of Particular’s nanoparticles makes them very attractive for medical diagnostic and catalytic applications,” he said.
Examples of applications in which the laser-generated nanoparticles of gold metal can be used include conjugation with biologically important molecules like antibodies, DNA and peptides, to make them visible to both optical and electron microscopes.
Other potential applications include exploiting the naturally antibacterial properties of the nanoparticles by embedding them into coatings, lacquers or even plastics, and replacing conventional chemical catalysts with the more active ligand-free nanoparticle forms of gold, platinum, rhodium or palladium.