Case 14711

Hierarchical Nanostructures by Thermal Oxidation of Metals


Thermal oxidation, copper oxide, nanowires, particle size


New structures and materials for a variety of thermal management applications ranging in scale from microprocessors to boilers of powerplants.


Need for continuous improvement in thermal management across various applications.


The invention presents a new mechanism for tunable nanowire growth from thermal oxidation of copper particles. By changing the particle size, the inventors were able to control the extent of growth and identify regimes of full and almost no nanowire coverage. The invention also proposes a three step oxidation process to account for the formation of a previously unreported intermediate phase with inner voids.

  • Tunable hierarchical structure
  • Adjust particle size to obtain an ideal rate of oxidation
  • High surface area of nanowire-covered particles with inner voids might enhance catalytic activity
  • Size-dependent kinetics is useful in sintering and creation of wicking structures where a controllable porosity is desired

  • Professor Kripa Varanasi (Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT)
  • Christopher Love (Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT)
  • Jonathan David Smith (Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT

Intellectual Property:

US Patent Application Number 13/363706, filed on February 1, 2012

PCT Patent Application Number PCT/US2012/023612, filed on February 2, 2012

  • C. J. Love, J. D. Smith, Y. Cui, K. K. Varanasi, "Size-dependent Thermal Oxidation of Copper -- Single-Step Synthesis of Hierarchical Nanostructures," Nanoscale, accepted, 2011.
  • R&D Magazine: Bristly particles can be a boon for powerplants
  • Last revised: April 29, 2013

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