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An apparatus for anodic oxidation of very small metal grids

Country of Origin: Slovenia
Reference Number: TOSI20210525001
Publication Date: 5 July 2021


Slovenian public research institutes have developed an apparatus for the preparation of an immobilized nanostructured film strongly attached to a small metal grid with the largest dimension smaller than 5 mm (for example a transmission electron microscopy (TEM) grid) with the anodic oxidation process in a simple and low-cost manner. 
Partners are sought among TEM grids or small sensors' manufacturers for technical cooperation and licensing agreements.


Various applications, such as synthesis of catalysts and active components in sensors, require immobilized nanostructured films. These can be the main catalysts or act as a high-surface-area support to immobilize active components in the form of different nanoparticles (e.g. metal nanoparticles) or organic molecules (e.g. enzymes).

Additionally, analysis of various samples with transmission electron microscope (TEM) is done with TEM grids that can be purchased in different mesh size from 100 to 1000 and different materials such as copper, nickel, titanium, gold, molybdenum, etc., which can have a different coating, e.g. carbon or gold. The role of the coating is to provide an additional support on top of the grid to prevent samples from falling through the holes. The most common is a carbon coating, which provides support without interfering significantly with the flow of the electron beam. However, it is beneficial that the coating also has high surface area to which sample material can be attached.

There are several methods for synthesis of immobilized nanostructured films (nanotubes, nanoparticles, etc.) on a metal substrate, such as chemical vapor deposition (CVD), solvothermal synthesis, dip coating, but they are not appropriate for preparation of strongly attached nanostructured films on TEM grids since their size is too small. The most common dimension is 3.05 mm in diameter, the pitch of approximately 25 µm to 250 µm. Additional disadvantages of the treatment of TEM grids with mentioned synthesis methods are their complexity and length of the process.

Another possible method for synthesis of nanostructures is anodic oxidation of metals which eliminates disadvantages of the above-mentioned methods, but offers no appropriate anodization apparatus for the anodization of TEM grids due to their small size.

Slovenian research institutes have developed an anodization apparatus that enables the anodization of very small metal samples, e.g. TEM grids. The invention addresses smaller meshes, having a diameter or length up to 5 mm, and solves the problem of bending or a different mechanical deformation during anodization. Furthermore, a challenge to connect the mesh to electricity due to their small size has been solved.

Both institutes are renowned Slovenian research organizations. The research groups have extensive research experience in inorganic materials with specific physical properties that are a consequence of their structural and chemical phenomena at the nanostructural and atomic levels. The inventors are experts in anodic oxidation, photocatalysis, electrocatalysis, electrophoretic deposition (EPD) and electropolishing.

The research institutes are looking for industrial partners for technical cooperation agreement and license agreement. Industrial partners should be companies that produce TEM grids or manufacture catalytic materials or active materials for catalytic or sensor applications. Within the technical cooperation agreement, the partner sought shall together with the Slovenian institutes technologically develop the apparatus and employ it in its production process. Following the successful integration of the device in the production process, the partner will be invited to sign the license agreement.

Advantages and Innovations

The advantages of the apparatus are:
• Simple anodization of very small meshes and grids,
• Highly homogenous nanostructured layer on the grids due to excellent electrical contact along the whole circumference of the grid,
• High-throughput anodization of grids if the housing can receive several grids, and
• Highly mechanically stable anodized grids, because bending
of the grid is prevented by the housing.

Stage Of Development

Prototype available for demonstration

Requested partner

Type: Companies that produce transmission electron microscopy (TEM) grids or active components of sensor or catalytic devices.
Role: The role of partner sought is to employ the invented apparatus in its production process within a technical cooperation agreement. Following the successful integration of the device in the production process, the partner will be invited to sign the license agreement.

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