Alike van Hurt is the CEO and co-founder of VSPARTICLE, a company that plans to make nanoparticles based industrial production of batteries, solar cells, sensors, and electronics a reality. VSPARTICLE supplies nanoparticle production technology. Their development of the spark ablation technique is poised to revolutionize the field of nanotechnology. With it, there is even the possibility of creating and printing materials with quantum properties enabling users with the flexibility to experiment and invent completely new materials or discover new applications.
“We are extremely enthusiastic about the launch of our technology. It signals a revolution in the field of nanotech and material innovation within numerous industries and also plays a role in helping the circular economy succeed,” said Aaike van Vugt, CEO of VSPARTICLE.
There are three different parameters (residence time, flow rate, and spark energy) that can be modified with the push of a button to dictate the size of a particle. This provides for a wide range of possible particles from a material.
Andreas Schmitt-Ott, one of VSPARTICLE’s co-founders, was the one who developed spark ablation, a process where an electrical spark is applied to an inert gas in the presence of the material that is desired on a nano-scale. When the process is complete, you are left with a concentrated nanoparticle vapor. Metals and semiconducting materials (constituting more than half of the periodic table) are suitable elements for use with this technique.
Regarding research, spark ablation has increased research speed and efficiency in two ways. One, by increasing nanoparticle synthesis speed. Within a day, the user can print nanoparticles at every scale they want to test, then even a few more sizes just to be sure. Two, by increased reliability. The more steps required along the way to producing a particle, the greater the margin of error and therefore the greater the risk of the experiment showing an invalid result. With VSPARTICLE, the risk is now effectively negligible thanks to the highly controlled environment within the spark chamber.
Regarding industry, the spark ablation technique is economically viable and can be (and has been) scaled to industrial production capacity. The same core-technology is used to produce nanoparticles in a factory as was used to produce them in a lab. To top it off, the moment a discovery is confirmed, the settings from one machine can be sent to the others so that these particles can immediately be seen on the production line.
Countless technological advances are in our grasp as we increase our capacity to control the nano-scale of our surroundings making nanotechnology one of today’s flourishing areas of science. An outlet capable of handling the volume of both research and production to this blowout of scientific capacity is required. VSPARTICLE is it.
“The technology that VSPARTICLE has developed has the potential to literally change the world. Every investor is looking for that special company that can actually have a real impact. VSPARTICLE is that company,” says Kees Jan Cordia, an investor with Invaco, which seed funded the company in 2017.