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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Adrienne R. Minerick


Nanoparticles are fascinating where physical and optical properties are related to size. Highly controllable synthesis methods and nanoparticle assembly are essential [6] for highly innovative technological applications. Among nanoparticles, nonhomogeneous core-shell nanoparticles (CSnp) have new properties that arise when varying the relative dimensions of the core and the shell. This CSnp structure enables various optical resonances, and engineered energy barriers, in addition to the high charge to surface ratio. Assembly of homogeneous nanoparticles into functional structures has become ubiquitous in biosensors (i.e. optical labeling) [7, 8], nanocoatings [9-13], and electrical circuits [14, 15]. Limited nonhomogenous nanoparticle assembly has only been explored. Many conventional nanoparticle assembly methods exist, but this work explores dielectrophoresis (DEP) as a new method. DEP is particle polarization via non-uniform electric fields while suspended in conductive fluids. Most prior DEP efforts involve microscale particles.

Prior work on core-shell nanoparticle assemblies and separately, nanoparticle characterizations with dielectrophoresis and electrorotation [2-5], did not systematically explore particle size, dielectric properties (permittivity and electrical conductivity), shell thickness, particle concentration, medium conductivity, and frequency. This work is the first, to the best of our knowledge, to systematically examine these dielectrophoretic properties for core-shell nanoparticles. Further, we conduct a parametric fitting to traditional core-shell models. These biocompatible core-shell nanoparticles were studied to fill a knowledge gap in the DEP field. Experimental results (chapter 5) first examine medium conductivity, size and shell material dependencies of dielectrophoretic behaviors of spherical CSnp into 2D and 3D particle-assemblies. Chitosan (amino sugar) and poly-L-lysine (amino acid, PLL) CSnp shell materials were custom synthesized around a hollow (gas) core by utilizing a phospholipid micelle around a volatile fluid templating for the shell material; this approach proves to be novel and distinct from conventional core-shell models wherein a conductive core is coated with an insulative shell.

Experiments were conducted within a 100 nl chamber housing 100 um wide Ti/Au quadrapole electrodes spaced 25 um apart. Frequencies from 100kHz to 80MHz at fixed local field of 5Vpp were tested with 10-5 and 10-3 S/m medium conductivities for 25 seconds. Dielectrophoretic responses of ~220 and 340(or ~400) nm chitosan or PLL CSnp were compiled as a function of medium conductivity, size and shell material.