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A versatile non-fouling multi-step flow reactor platform: demonstration for partial oxidation synthesis of iron oxide nanoparticles

Besenhard, Maximilian O; Pal, Sayan; Storozhuk, Liudmyla; Dawes, Simon; Thanh, Nguyen Thi Kim; Norfolk, Laura; Staniland, Sarah; (2022) A versatile non-fouling multi-step flow reactor platform: demonstration for partial oxidation synthesis of iron oxide nanoparticles. Lab on a Chip 10.1039/d2lc00892k. Green open access

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Abstract

In the last decade flow reactors for material synthesis were firmly established, demonstrating advantageous operating conditions, reproducible and scalable production via continuous operation, as well as high-throughput screening of synthetic conditions. Reactor fouling, however, often restricts flow chemistry and the common fouling prevention via segmented flow comes at the cost of inflexibility. Often, the difficulty of feeding reagents into liquid segments (droplets or slugs) constrains flow syntheses using segmented flow to simple synthetic protocols with a single reagent addition step prior or during segmentation. Hence, the translation of fouling prone syntheses requiring multiple reagent addition steps into flow remains challenging. This work presents a modular flow reactor platform overcoming this bottleneck by fully exploiting the potential of three-phase (gas-liquid-liquid) segmented flow to supply reagents after segmentation, hence facilitating fouling free multi-step flow syntheses. The reactor design and materials selection address the operation challenges inherent to gas-liquid-liquid flow and reagent addition into segments allowing for a wide range of flow rates, flow ratios, temperatures, and use of continuous phases (no perfluorinated solvents needed). This "Lego®-like" reactor platform comprises elements for three-phase segmentation and sequential reagent addition into fluid segments, as well as temperature-controlled residence time modules that offer the flexibility required to translate even complex nanomaterial synthesis protocols to flow. To demonstrate the platform's versatility, we chose a fouling prone multi-step synthesis, i.e., a water-based partial oxidation synthesis of iron oxide nanoparticles. This synthesis required I) the precipitation of ferrous hydroxides, II) the addition of an oxidation agent, III) a temperature treatment to initiate magnetite/maghemite formation, and IV) the addition of citric acid to increase the colloidal stability. The platform facilitated the synthesis of colloidally stable magnetic nanoparticles reproducibly at well-controlled synthetic conditions and prevented fouling using heptane as continuous phase. The biocompatible particles showed excellent heating abilities in alternating magnetic fields (ILP values >3 nH m2 kgFe-1), hence, their potential for magnetic hyperthermia cancer treatment. The platform allowed for long term operation, as well as screening of synthetic conditions to tune particle properties. This was demonstrated via the addition of tetraethylenepentamine, confirming its potential to control particle morphology. Such a versatile reactor platform makes it possible to translate even complex syntheses into flow, opening up new opportunities for material synthesis.

Type: Article
Title: A versatile non-fouling multi-step flow reactor platform: demonstration for partial oxidation synthesis of iron oxide nanoparticles
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1039/d2lc00892k
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1039/D2LC00892K
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Biochemical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Chemical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > London Centre for Nanotechnology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10161322
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