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Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

First Advisor

Desheng Meng


During the past decades, tremendous research interests have been attracted to investigate nanoparticles due to their promising catalytic, magnetic, and optical properties. In this thesis, two novel methods of nanoparticle fabrication were introduced and the basic formation mechanisms were studied. Metal nanoparticles and polyurethane nanoparticles were separately fabricated by a short-distance sputter deposition technique and a reactive ion etching process.

First, a sputter deposition method with a very short target-substrate distance is found to be able to generate metal nanoparticles on the glass substrate inside a RIE chamber. The distribution and morphology of nanoparticles are affected by the distance, the ion concentration and the process time. Densely-distributed nanoparticles of various compositions are deposited on the substrate surface when the target-substrate distance is smaller than 130mm. It is much less than the atoms’ mean free path, which is the threshold in previous research for nanoparticles’ formation. Island structures are formed when the distance is increased to 510mm, indicating the tendency to form continuous thin film. The trend is different from previously-reported sputtering method for nanoparticle fabrication, where longer distance between the target and the substrate facilitates the formation of nanoparticle. A mechanism based on the seeding effect of the substrate is proposed to interpret the experimental results.

Secondly, in polyurethane nanoparticles’ fabrication, a mechanism is put forward based on the microphase separation phenomenon in block copolymer thin film. The synthesized polymers have formed dispersed and continuous phases because of the different properties between segments. With harder mechanical property, the dispersed phase is remained after RIE process while the continuous phase is etched away, leading to the formation of nanoparticles on the substrate. The nanoparticles distribution is found to be affected by the heating effect, the process time and the plasma power.

Superhydrophilic property is found on samples with these two types of nanoparticles. The relationship between the nanostructure and the hydrophilicity is studied for further potential applications.