Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have launched a new effort to apply expertise in plasma to study and optimize the use of the hot, electrically charged gas as a tool for producing nanoparticles. This research aims to advance the understanding of plasma-based synthesis processes, and could lead to new methods for creating high-quality nanomaterials at relatively low cost.
Nanomaterials, which are measured in billionths of a meter, are prized for their use in everything from golf clubs and swimwear to microchips, paints and pharmaceutical products, thanks to their singular properties. These include exceptional strength and flexibility and high electrical conductivity. Carbon nanotubes, for example, are tens of thousands of times thinner than a human hair, yet are stronger than steel on an ounce-per-ounce basis.
PPPL researchers have launched a nanotechnology laboratory that they envision as a step toward research capabilities that could serve as a resource for institutions and industries around the world.
Charles Gentile is head of the Tritium Systems Group at PPPL. He led a team at PPPL to create a Miniature Integrated Nuclear Detection System, called MINDS, which can be used to scan moving vehicles, luggage, cargo vessels, and the like for specific nuclear signatures associated with materials employed in radiological weapons. MINDS could be employed at work- place entrances, post offices, tollbooths, airports, commercial shipping ports, and in police cruisers to detect the transportation of unauthorized nuclear materials.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
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