Method for Dispersion of Bare Nanoparticles in Nonpolar Solvents 

Energy/Cleantech Engineering - Chemical and Process Physical Sciences
Tech ID #: 1176.10

Researchers from the University of Calgary, in association with Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs, have invented the Artificial Double Layer (ADL) method, a new facile method for dispersing nanoparticles in nonpolar solvents with low dielectric constant. The dispersion of bare nanoparticles in nonpolar solvents requires energy- and chemical-intensive surface functionalization process balancing interparticle attraction and particle-solvent interaction, resulting in the lack of economic feasibility for current processes. The ADL method can be applied to any solvent and involves the utilization of ion pairs which enhance the dispersibility of bare nanoparticles on the target nonpolar solvent. The method has been tested through the direct addition of the nanoparticles and ionic liquid stabilizer to the nonpolar organic solvent, resulting in the achievement of long-term stability of the dispersion of nanoparticles. Many adaptations and modifications may be made within the scope of this technology.   



  • A new facile one-pot method for stabilizing bare nanoparticles in nonpolar solvents utilizing an ion complex of an acid and a base was developed and validated  
  • The technology uses ion pairs to shield the nanoparticles and enhancing their dispersibility on the target nonpolar solvent 
  • The method is applicable to any solvent and is especially effective with the decrease in solvent polarity  
  • The method requires only a single stabilization step that provides a stable dispersion, eliminating the chemical-intensive functionalization process and significantly enhancing the environmental sustainability of the dispersion process 



  • Water-in-oil emulsions in food industry  
  • Water-in-oil emulsions for drilling fluids  
  • Nonaqueous foams  
  • Dispersion of graphene oxides   
  • Liquid immersion development (LID) 
  • Electrostatic lithography 
  • Drop-on-demand ink jet 
  • Photoelectrophoresis 
  • Electrophoretic displays  
  • Electrorheological fluids  



  • Current techniques require a complex process that involves energy-intensive chemical reactions to improve the dispersibility of nanoparticles and several organic solvents need to be recycled in the process. The ADL method developed through this patented process can circumvent the drawbacks of these current methods. 
  • The technology does not require complex chemical reactions such as esterification and amidization for covalently bonding or purification, which lacks feasibility for scale up processes.  
  • The technology involves processes that require only a single stabilization step for long-term stable dispersion.  
  • The ADL method does not require solvent transfer or heat.  
  • The range of this technology can be expanded to various platforms and areas of application.   



  • Developed in the lab   



  • International Application No. PCT/US2012/070783 
  • Researcher profile: Dr. Steven Bryant 

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