Ultrasonic Homogenizers for Nanomaterial Deagglomeration

In today’s fast-evolving materials science landscape, Hielscher sonicators stand out by providing unparalleled precision for nanomaterial deagglomeration in lab beakers and in production scale. Hielscher ultrasonic homogenizers empower researchers and engineers to push the boundaries of what is possible in nanotechnology applications.

Nanomaterial Deagglomeration: Challenges and Hielscher Solutions

Nanomaterial formulations in laboratory or industrial scale often encounters the problem of agglomeration. Hielscher sonicators address this through high-intensity ultrasonic cavitation, ensuring effective particle deagglomeration and dispersion. For instance, in the formulation of carbon nanotube enhanced materials, Hielscher sonicators have been instrumental in breaking apart tangled bundles, thus enhancing their electrical and mechanical properties.

Ultrasonic nanomaterials deagglomeration produces uniform narrow particle size distributions.

Step-by-Step Guide to Efficient Nanomaterial Dispersion and Deagglomeration

  1. Select Your Sonicator: Based on your volume and viscosity requirements, choose a Hielscher sonicator model suited for your application. We will be glad to assist you. Please contact us with your requirements!
  2. Prepare the Sample: Mix your nanomaterial in a suitable solvent or liquid.
  3. Set Sonication Parameters: Adjust the amplitude and pulse settings based on your material’s sensitivity and desired outcomes. Pleas ask us for recommendations and deagglomeration protocols!
  4. Monitor the Process: Use periodic sampling to evaluate deagglomeration effectiveness and adjust parameters as needed.
  5. Post-Sonication Handling: Ensure stabilized dispersion with appropriate surfactants or by immediate use in applications.
Sonication is well established in the deagglomeration and functionalization of thermoconductive nanoparticles as well as the production of stable high-performant nanofluids for cooling applications.

Ultrasonic Deagglomeration of Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) in Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

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Frequently Asked Nanomaterial Deagglomeration Questions (FAQs)

  • Why do nanoparticles agglomerate?

    Nanoparticles tend to agglomerate due to their high surface-to-volume ratio, which leads to a significant increase in surface energy. This high surface energy results in an inherent tendency for the particles to reduce their exposed surface area to the surrounding medium, driving them to come together and form clusters. This phenomenon is primarily driven by van der Waals forces, electrostatic interactions, and, in some cases, magnetic forces if the particles have magnetic properties. Agglomeration can be detrimental to the unique properties of nanoparticles, such as their reactivity, mechanical properties, and optical characteristics.

  • What keeps nanoparticles from sticking together?

    Preventing nanoparticles from sticking together involves overcoming the intrinsic forces that drive agglomeration. This is typically achieved through surface modification strategies that introduce steric or electrostatic stabilization. Steric stabilization involves attaching polymers or surfactants to the surface of nanoparticles, creating a physical barrier that prevents close approach and aggregation. Electrostatic stabilization, on the other hand, is achieved by coating nanoparticles with charged molecules or ions that impart the same charge to all particles, resulting in mutual repulsion. These methods can effectively counteract van der Waals and other attractive forces, maintaining the nanoparticles in a stable dispersed state. Ultrasonication assists during steric or electrostatic stabilization.

  • How can we prevent agglomeration of nanoparticles?

    Preventing the agglomeration of nanoparticles requires a multifaceted approach, incorporating good dispersion techniques, such as sonication, appropriate choice of dispersion medium, and the use of stabilizing agents. Ultrasonic high shear mixing is more efficient to disperse nanoparticles and break up agglomerates than old fashioned ball mills. The selection of a suitable dispersion medium is critical, as it must be compatible with both the nanoparticles and the stabilizing agents used. Surfactants, polymers, or protective coatings can be applied to the nanoparticles to provide steric or electrostatic repulsion, thereby stabilizing the dispersion and preventing agglomeration.

  • How can we deagglomerate nanomaterials?

    Reducing the agglomeration of nanomaterials can be achieved through the application of ultrasonic energy (sonication), which generates cavitation bubbles in the liquid medium. The collapse of these bubbles produces intense local heat, high pressure, and strong shear forces that can break apart nanoparticle clusters. The effectiveness of sonication in deagglomerating nanoparticles is influenced by factors such as sonication power, duration, and the physical and chemical properties of the nanoparticles and the medium.

  • What is the difference between agglomerate and aggregate?

    The distinction between agglomerates and aggregates lies in the strength of the particle bonds and the nature of their formation. Agglomerates are clusters of particles held together by relatively weak forces, such as van der Waals forces or hydrogen bonding, and can often be redispersed into individual particles using mechanical forces such as stirring, shaking, or sonication. Aggregates, however, are composed of particles that are bound together by strong forces, such as covalent bonds, resulting in a permanent union that is much more difficult to break down. Hielscher sonicators provide the intense shear that can break particle aggregates.

  • What is the difference between coalesce and agglomerate?

    Coalescence and agglomeration refer to the coming together of particles, but they involve different processes. Coalescence is a process where two or more droplets or particles merge to form a single entity, often involving the fusion of their surfaces and internal contents, leading to a permanent union. This process is common in emulsions where droplets merge to lower the system’s overall surface energy. Agglomeration, in contrast, typically involves solid particles coming together to form clusters through weaker forces, such as van der Waals forces or electrostatic interactions, without merging their internal structures. Unlike coalescence, agglomerated particles can often be separated back into individual components under the right conditions.

  • How do you break nanomaterial agglomerates?

    Breaking agglomerates involves the application of mechanical forces to overcome the forces holding the particles together. Techniques include high shear mixing, milling, and ultrasonication. Ultrasonication is the most effective technology for nanoparticle deagglomeration, as the cavitation it produces generates intense local shear forces that can separate particles bound by weak forces.

  • What does sonication do to nanoparticles?

    Sonication applies high-frequency ultrasonic waves to a sample, causing rapid vibrations and the formation of cavitation bubbles in the liquid medium. The implosion of these bubbles generates intense local heat, high pressures, and shear forces. For nanoparticles, Hielscher sonicators effectively disperse particles by breaking up agglomerates and preventing reagglomeration through energy input that overcomes attractive interparticle forces. This process is essential for achieving uniform particle size distributions and enhancing the material’s properties for various applications.

  • What are the methods of nanoparticle dispersion?

    Nanoparticle deagglomeration and dispersion methods can be categorized into mechanical, chemical, and physical processes. Ultrasonication is a very effective mechanical method, which physically separates particles. Hielscher sonicators are favored for their efficiency, scalability, ability to achieve fine dispersions, and their applicability across a wide range of materials and solvents at any scale. Most importantly, Hielscher sonicators allow you to scale up your process linearly without compromises. Chemical methods, on the other hand, involve the use of surfactants, polymers, or other chemicals that adsorb to particle surfaces, providing steric or electrostatic repulsion. Physical methods may involve altering the medium’s properties, such as pH or ionic strength, to improve dispersion stability. Ultrasonication can assist the chemical dispersion of nanomaterials.

  • What is the sonication method for nanoparticle synthesis?

    The sonication method for nanoparticle synthesis involves using ultrasonic energy to facilitate or enhance chemical reactions that lead to the formation of nanoparticles. This can occur through the cavitation process, which generates localized hot spots of extreme temperature and pressure, promoting reaction kinetics and influencing the nucleation and growth of nanoparticles. Sonication can help control particle size, shape, and distribution, making it a versatile tool in the synthesis of nanoparticles with desired properties.

  • What are the two types of sonication methods?

    The two main types of sonication methods are batch probe sonication and inline probe sonication. Batch probe sonication involves placing an ultrasonic probe into a nanomaterial slurry. Inline probe sonication, on the other hand, involves pumping an nanomaterial slurry through an ultrasonic reactor, in which a sonication probe provides intense and localized ultrasonic energy. The latter method is more effective for processing larger volumes in production and it is widely used in production-scale nanoparticle dispersion and deagglomeration.

  • How long does it take to sonicate nanoparticles?

    The sonication time for nanoparticles varies widely depending on the material, the initial state of agglomeration, the concentration of the sample, and the desired end-properties. Typically, sonication times can range from a few seconds to several hours. Optimizing sonication time is crucial, as under-sonication may leave agglomerates intact, while over-sonication can lead to particle fragmentation or unwanted chemical reactions. Empirical testing under controlled conditions is often necessary to determine the optimal sonication duration for a specific application.

  • How does sonication time affect particle size?

    Sonication time directly influences particle size and distribution. Initially, increased sonication leads to a reduction in particle size due to the breakup of agglomerates. However, beyond a certain point, prolonged sonication may not further reduce particle size significantly and can even induce structural changes in the particles. Finding the optimal sonication time is essential for achieving the desired particle size distribution without compromising the material’s integrity.

  • Does sonication break molecules?

    Sonication can break molecules, but this effect is highly dependent on the molecule’s structure and the sonication conditions. High-intensity sonication can cause bond breakage in molecules, leading to fragmentation or chemical decomposition. This effect is utilized in sonochemistry for promoting chemical reactions through the formation of free radicals. However, for most applications involving nanoparticle dispersion, the sonication parameters are optimized to avoid molecular breakage while still achieving effective deagglomeration and dispersion.

  • How do you separate nanoparticles from solutions?

    Separating nanoparticles from solutions can be achieved through various methods, including centrifugation, filtration, and precipitation. Centrifugation uses centrifugal force to separate particles based on size and density, while ultrafiltration involves passing the solution through a membrane with pore sizes that retain nanoparticles. Precipitation can be induced by changing the solvent properties, such as pH or ionic strength, causing nanoparticles to agglomerate and settle. The choice of separation method depends on the nanoparticles’ physical and chemical properties, as well as the requirements of the subsequent processing or analysis.

Hielscher UP400St sonicator deagglomerates nanomaterials

Hielscher UP400St sonicator for nanomaterial deagglomeration

Materials Research with Hielscher Ultrasonics

Hielscher probe-type sonicators are an essential tool in nanomaterials research and application. By addressing the challenges of nanomaterial deagglomeration head-on and offering practical, actionable solutions, we aim to be your go-to resource for cutting-edge materials science exploration.

Reach out today to explore how our sonication technology can revolutionize your nanomaterial applications.

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Common Nanomaterials Requiring Deagglomeration

In materials research, nanomaterial deagglomeration is key to optimizing the properties of nanomaterials for various applications. Ultrasonic deagglomeration and dispersion of these nanomaterials is foundational to advancements in scientific and industrial fields, ensuring their performance in various applications.

  1. Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs): Used in nanocomposites, electronics, and energy storage devices for their exceptional mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties.
  2. Metal Oxide Nanoparticles: Includes titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and iron oxide, crucial in catalysis, photovoltaics, and as antimicrobial agents.
  3. Graphene and Graphene Oxide: For conductive inks, flexible electronics, and composite materials, where deagglomeration ensures exploitation of their properties.
  4. Silver Nanoparticles (AgNPs): Employed in coatings, textiles, and medical devices for their antimicrobial properties, requiring uniform dispersion.
  5. Gold Nanoparticles (AuNPs): Used in drug delivery, catalysis, and biosensing due to their unique optical properties.
  6. Silica Nanoparticles: Additives in cosmetics, food products, and polymers to improve durability and functionality.
  7. Ceramic Nanoparticles: Used in coatings, electronics, and biomedical devices for enhanced properties like hardness and conductivity.
  8. Polymeric Nanoparticles: Designed for drug delivery systems, needing deagglomeration for consistent drug release rates.
  9. Magnetic Nanoparticles: Such as iron oxide nanoparticles used in MRI contrast agents and cancer treatment, requiring effective deagglomeration for desired magnetic properties.


In this video we demonstrate you the remarkable efficiency of the sonicator UP200Ht dispersing carbon powder in water. Watch how rapidly ultrasonication overcomes the attraction forces between the particles and blends the hard-to-mix carbonaceous powder into water. Due to its exceptional mixing power, sonication is commonly used to produce uniform nano-dispersions of carbon black, C65, fullerenes C60, and Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) in industry, materials science and nanotechnology.

Ultrasonic Dispersion of Carbon Materials with the Ultrasonic Probe UP200Ht

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