Gold Nanomeshes for Passive Aerosol Capture

Tyler Fears | 21-FS-018

Project Overview

This project sought to determine the feasibility of using ultra-low-density (5-40 mg/cm3) gold nanowire aerogels (nanomeshes) as substrates for capturing and analyzing aerosolized particles. These materials were previously observed to pick-up large amounts of contaminating debris if not handled with care, indicating that they could be engineered to intentionally capture material with high efficiency. The current state of the art for particulate capture uses substrates that are either poor particle collectors, e.g., bare silicon, or are loaded with adhesive to enable effective capture, e.g., carbon tape. This means that efficient capture currently involves embedding particles in a carbonaceous adhesive, which interferes with a variety of desired analysis techniques. Gold nanomeshes are a low-carbon (<3 wt%) alternatives which can broaden the analysis suite for captured particulates.

This project successfully demonstrated that gold nanomeshes can be used to capture particles under simulated conditions. In addition to providing a low-carbon substrate for particulate capture, the substrates enable surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS), potentially enabling detection of trace analytes of interest in addition to particulate analysis.

Mission Impact

This work supports LLNL's mission research challenge in Forensic Science  by enabling enhanced environmental (natural and synthetic) monitoring capabilities that improve our ability to monitor and deter nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological threats in multiple domains and will contribute to our ability to meet future national security challenges.

Publications, Presentations, and Patents

Fears, Tyler M. and Bagge-Hansen, Michael. 2021. Adhesive-free particle capture using nanowire aerogels. US Provisional Patent 63/147054, filed 02/08/21.