Glovebox for Nano synthesis
CONDITIONING WATER VAPOR AND OXYGEN LEVELS CRUCIAL IN RESEARCH NANOMATERIALS
The Leonard S. Ornstein Laboratory in Utrecht uses gloveboxes to keep out water vapor and oxygen during research into the chemistry and physics of solids and interfaces. Full control over the environmental parameters is crucial to be able to control the synthesis of nanostructures.
The lab is part of the Debye Institute for Nano materials, which focuses on studying material properties on a nano scale. The Ornsteinlab's "Condensed Matter and Interfaces" department is working on the synthesis of semiconductor nano structures with controlled dimensions and the self-assembly of such building blocks in more complex architectures. Practical applications are also being worked on through contacts in the industry. Within the department, technical analyst Peter van den Beld focuses on the maintenance and repair of the equipment and the management of the chemicals: “Furthermore, I am the first point of contact for the students if there are problems or if they need something for their research. I also brainstorm with PhDs and students why a research or measurement is not going according to plan. We then look at possible points for improvement and whether something can be made to realize them. I am an instrument maker at home, so where possible, I do that myself. ”
The department has extensive facilities for optical, (opto) electrical and electrochemical studies. Molecular simulations are used for research into self-assembly processes, the molecular shell structure and the growth of thin films and single crystals. The research focus is on the size-dependent, optical and electrical properties of individual nanocrystals, ensembles of nanocrystals that do not interact with each other and systems in which the building blocks are electronically linked. The field of application is wide and ranges from lighting and solar cells to micro-electromechanical systems and (nano) device technology. The department is currently studying the self-assembly of nanoparticles and structure formation in model biomembranes. The study of interface and photoelectrochemistry is important for semiconductor nanostructures, porous semiconductors and single crystalline materials. Techniques used include wet chemical (colloidal) synthesis, electrodeposition, anodic etching and template synthesis.
Gloveboxes are indispensable in this advanced research. Van den Beld: “Especially because our research cannot take place under atmospheric conditions. The chemicals we use and the material to be investigated must in particular be protected against water vapor and oxygen when making quantum dots. ” These are semiconductor particles the size of a few nanometers, he explains. They have optical and electronic properties that differ from those of larger particles. “Which are, among other things, surface-dependent. Exposure to air can lead to oxidation and possibly to a change in the surface and thus the material properties. ”
FOUR-PORT MODEL IS EQUIPPED WITH A FREEZER, REGENERABLE SOLVENT FILTER AND TWO PURIFIERS
Glove boxes provide the right conditions for this work.
The lab contains a number of two and four-port cabinets from KoreaKiyon, supplied by Laser2000. They are equipped with a large absorption volume purifier and a high capacity blower to keep the environmental conditions under full control, even in "emergencies". "If things go wrong when entering and exiting and oxygen and / or water ends up in the box, the oxygen and water vapor level can be brought back to the correct level" in no time ".
" One of the four-port models is custom made. "At our request, it is equipped with a freezer, a regenerable solvent filter and two purifiers: if one is regenerated, we can use the other."
The cabinet with accessories must be checked upon commissioning and then at least once every 2 years. This also includes replacing the contents of the solvent filter - at least twice a year - and checking the oil level, the oil mist filters and the hepa filters. Van den Beld concludes on this maintenance: “We keep a close eye on the state of the oxygen and water vapor meters, and on that basis decide whether to regenerate the purifier or replace the solvent filter. If the meters are high, the boxes will be flushed using nitrogen (4 ppm). I normally carry out those activities myself. In case of major malfunctions, I call the representative and together we look for possible solutions to the problem that has arisen. ”