Method to Fabricate Ultra-thin Nanoporous Metal Membranes and Coat Catalytic Metals Thereon

The invention relates to the fabrication and application of extremely thin free-standing metal membranes ("leaf"). We have developed a way to make such membranes highly porous, with pore sizes tunable between 5 nm and 100 nm. These materials have very high surface areas, and may be readily attached to a variety of substrates. The preferred material out of which we make such porous membranes is gold, because this material is highly inert, biocompatible, and easily handled, although the method is not limited to gold alone. We have developed a method by which porosity on different, controllable, scales may be made. For instance, one might make 100-1000 nm channels through which fluid can flow, but have channel walls that exhibit 10 nm porosity. We have further developed a method to decorate these nanoporous membranes with a high density of catalytic nanoparticles made from a variety of materials, both inorganic and organic. Coated in this way, nanoporous membranes are very convenient for electrocatalytic or sensor applications. Suitable organics surfactants may be used to modify the wettability of the porous substrate. Description (Set) Proposed Use (Set) Functionalized nanoporous metal leaf may be used in any application where porous electrodes are useful. Specifically, one application for porous gold coated with platinum nanoparticles is fuel cell electrodes. Another application is in sensing, particularly biosensing. The motivation for this application is that nanoporous gold is inherently biocompatible and because the multimodal porosity we can engineer should allow high sensitivity and fast response time. Also, this material may be directly incorporated into typical microfluidic architectures. Porous metal leaf alone may be used as translucent electrodes, such as for solar cells. In this application, the characteristic of tunable wettability is advantageous for use in outdoor applications. Patent (Set) 6,805,972; WO 2004/020064; WO 2004/021481

US 6,805,972

Inventor(s): Erlebacher, Jonah Daedalvs

Type of Offer: Licensing

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