Theoretical investigation of mechanisms of formation and interaction of nanoparticles

Flegg, Mark Bruce (2010) Theoretical investigation of mechanisms of formation and interaction of nanoparticles. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


In this thesis an investigation into theoretical models for formation and interaction of nanoparticles is presented. The work presented includes a literature review of current models followed by a series of five chapters of original research. This thesis has been submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of doctor of philosophy by publication and therefore each of the five chapters consist of a peer-reviewed journal article. The thesis is then concluded with a discussion of what has been achieved during the PhD candidature, the potential applications for this research and ways in which the research could be extended in the future. In this thesis we explore stochastic models pertaining to the interaction and evolution mechanisms of nanoparticles. In particular, we explore in depth the stochastic evaporation of molecules due to thermal activation and its ultimate effect on nanoparticles sizes and concentrations. Secondly, we analyse the thermal vibrations of nanoparticles suspended in a fluid and subject to standing oscillating drag forces (as would occur in a standing sound wave) and finally on lattice surfaces in the presence of high heat gradients. We have described in this thesis a number of new models for the description of multicompartment networks joined by a multiple, stochastically evaporating, links. The primary motivation for this work is in the description of thermal fragmentation in which multiple molecules holding parts of a carbonaceous nanoparticle may evaporate. Ultimately, these models predict the rate at which the network or aggregate fragments into smaller networks/aggregates and with what aggregate size distribution. The models are highly analytic and describe the fragmentation of a link holding multiple bonds using Markov processes that best describe different physical situations and these processes have been analysed using a number of mathematical methods. The fragmentation of the network/aggregate is then predicted using combinatorial arguments. Whilst there is some scepticism in the scientific community pertaining to the proposed mechanism of thermal fragmentation,we have presented compelling evidence in this thesis supporting the currently proposed mechanism and shown that our models can accurately match experimental results. This was achieved using a realistic simulation of the fragmentation of the fractal carbonaceous aggregate structure using our models. Furthermore, in this thesis a method of manipulation using acoustic standing waves is investigated. In our investigation we analysed the effect of frequency and particle size on the ability for the particle to be manipulated by means of a standing acoustic wave. In our results, we report the existence of a critical frequency for a particular particle size. This frequency is inversely proportional to the Stokes time of the particle in the fluid. We also find that for large frequencies the subtle Brownian motion of even larger particles plays a significant role in the efficacy of the manipulation. This is due to the decreasing size of the boundary layer between acoustic nodes. Our model utilises a multiple time scale approach to calculating the long term effects of the standing acoustic field on the particles that are interacting with the sound. These effects are then combined with the effects of Brownian motion in order to obtain a complete mathematical description of the particle dynamics in such acoustic fields. Finally, in this thesis, we develop a numerical routine for the description of "thermal tweezers". Currently, the technique of thermal tweezers is predominantly theoretical however there has been a handful of successful experiments which demonstrate the effect it practise. Thermal tweezers is the name given to the way in which particles can be easily manipulated on a lattice surface by careful selection of a heat distribution over the surface. Typically, the theoretical simulations of the effect can be rather time consuming with supercomputer facilities processing data over days or even weeks. Our alternative numerical method for the simulation of particle distributions pertaining to the thermal tweezers effect use the Fokker-Planck equation to derive a quick numerical method for the calculation of the effective diffusion constant as a result of the lattice and the temperature. We then use this diffusion constant and solve the diffusion equation numerically using the finite volume method. This saves the algorithm from calculating many individual particle trajectories since it is describes the flow of the probability distribution of particles in a continuous manner. The alternative method that is outlined in this thesis can produce a larger quantity of accurate results on a household PC in a matter of hours which is much better than was previously achieveable.

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ID Code: 31843
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Jaatinen, Esa
Keywords: aerosols, thermal fragmentation, Ehrenfest model, fractal degradation, acoustic manipulation, thermophoresus, activated diffusion, nanoparticle, polymer degradation, Fokker-Planck equation, Smoluchowski equation, fine particles, ultrafine particles, asymmetric drift, Brownian motion, Markov model, finite volume method, generating functions
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 19 Apr 2010 02:46
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:56

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