Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Chemical and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Eric A. Grulke


Complex engineered nanoparticles (CENPs) are being used on various applications. Their properties are different from those of neat nanoparticles. The dissertation explores these differences from four aspects: 1) Modify carbon nanomaterials’ inert surfaces and investigate the effect on thermal and rheological behavior of their dispersions; 2) Generate self-assembly bi-layer structure of oxide nanoparticles via surface modification; 3) Study interaction between lysozyme and different surface-charged ceria nanoparticles; 4) Investigate the biodistribution and transformations of CENPs in biological media.

An environment-friendly surface modification was developed to modify surfaces of carbon nanomaterials for increasing their affinity to non-polar fluid. It can offset formation of agglomerates in dispersions. Less agglomerates change thermal conductivity and rheological behavior. One combined model, considering shape factor, was built to fit non-linear enhancement on thermal conductivity with volume fraction of nanoparticles.

Constructing bi-layer structure of oxide nanoparticles with different refractive index was crucial for optical thin films. Silanization was used to transform relatively hydrophilic surface of oxide nanoparticles to hydrophobic surface via attaching alkane chains. The self-assembly separation of these nanoparticles can form bi-layer structure in single deposition process since neat nanoparticles keep in hydrophilic monomer while surface-modified nanoparticles settled down.

The adsorption behaviors of lysozyme, one protein with net positive charge, on different surface-charged ceria nanoparticles were investigated. The adsorption isotherm curves were fitted with the Toth and Sips equations satisfactorily. The heterogeneity parameters suggest the surface charge predominate adsorption on negatively charged ceria while lateral effect predominate adsorption on positively charged ceria. The local site energy distributions were also estimated.

The 26Al-labeled nanoalumina coated by 14C-labeled citrate was synthesized and its dispersion was infused intravenously into rat. The Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS) was used to measure isotopes in dosing material and tissues. The ratio of coating and core in liver was slightly less than dosing material while the ratios in brain and bone are much higher than dosing material. It may suggest that some citrate coating dissociated from nanoalumina’s surface, entered metabolic cycles, and then redistributed to other organs.