ETH Zurich develops patent pending porous ceramic catalysts for micro-electromechanical systems

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Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed porous ceramic catalysts for micro-electromechanical systems, the technique is patent pending. The patent describes a very flexible and cost-efficient method to produce a solid structured foam-type catalyst that can be filled in micro-electromechanical sys­tems (MEMS) and nano powder cata­lysts produced by such a method.

Good and efficient catalyst materials are often nanosized materials available in powder form. In order to use such a cata­lyst in a MEMS device the nano powder needs to be bound to for example a gel or a foam. So far, no method for this ex­ists.

Catalyst materials are often fabricated by coating, impregnation or packing catalyst particles in a cavity. These methods are not well suitable for MEMS devices due to inhomogenei­ties, loose particles, and loss of materi­als during operation.

The invention binds the catalyst material in a solid structured foam which can be provided in situ in a final MEMS geometry without a need to transfer the rigid catalyst to the final geometry after pro­duction. The catalyst particles are mixed with a ceramic binder, a carrier liquid, at least one chemical additive for promoting dispersion and/or con­trolling gelation and, optionally, inert carrier particles to obtain a slurry hav­ing a gel-or paste-like consistency.

By a flow method, the prepared slurry with the catalyst can be transported to a desired location which can be a small MEMS cavity. In most cases the slurry will be heated in order to obtain a rigid porous ceramic body, however no sin­tering is required. The performance of the catalyst is very stable over time and will enable a range of new sensor and catalysis applications.

Features & Benefits

  • Efficient method to place the catalyst in situ in any final reactor geometry
  • Very homogenous distribution of the catalyst resulting in excellent catalytic performanc
  • Universal method that can be applied to many catalysts, sub­strates and miniaturized systems
  • Easy to implement and cost-efficient method
Field of Application
  • Catalysis
  • Sensors
  • Fuel cells
  • MEMS devices
  • Applications using porous materi­als
More information: http://www.transfer.ethz.ch/technol/index
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