Plasmas for Nanomaterials Synthesis and Processing

Aerosol-only methods for controlling the properties of nanocrystals

Dr. Rebecca Anthony’s research has focused on using plasmas as tools for materials synthesis and processing. Low-pressure plasmas are elegant tools for making nanomaterials in the gas phase, starting with vapor or gaseous presursors and resulting in nanocrystals with tunable physical properties. These nanocrystals are then incorporated into light-emitting devices, solar photovoltaics, and other applications.

Even though the plasma is basically a room-temperature processing tool, gas-phase reactions at nanoparticle surfaces lead to heating of the materials. This heating allows formation of high-quality crystals even from materials with high crystallization temperatures, like silicon. One current project examines how to use additional plasmas and other gas-phase schemes to modify nanocrystal surfaces with additional atoms or molecules for diverse functionalities like enabling water-dispersability and enhancing electronic transport between nanocrystals. Other projects include synthesis of compound materials using plasmas, and exploring the abilities of the plasma for controlling crystal structure and nanocrystal morphology. Throughout, these experiments involve quantitative measurements of plasma properties like optical emission and plasma species densities, so that these plasma characteristics are linked to the resulting materials properties.