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Metal and Alloy Nanoparticle Production through Cathodic Corrosion


Leiden University has developed a radically different method for large scale production of various metal nanoparticles and their alloys. The size of nanoparticles range from 2 - 100 nm in liquids.

A Proof of Principle has been demonstrated and a larger production unit became operational recently. The new unit will make it possible to provide research institutes and industry samples for further evaluation.

Technology Overview

Cathodic corrosion for producing nanoparticles was (re)discovered when trying to control the electrochemical etching of a scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) tip. We have shown that the metal nanoparticles (NPs) and their alloys can be easily produced by using cathodic corrosion and their sizes and compositions can be controlled. The produced NPs were shown to have high catalytic activity and superior to the commercial ones. Since cathodic corrosion is radically different from all other existing methods of NP synthesis, its ability for tuning properties of NPs is still relatively unexplored, and hence improved characteristics are still expected. Given the enormous simplicity and versatility of the method, we believe that cathodic corrosion has unique potential.

This method includes also the inhibition of agglomeration, the scaling up of NP production and the in-situ impregnation of functional nanocomposites (

Figure 1. Photographs of the colloidal nanoparticles (NPs) generated by the cathodic corrosion method. (a) monometallic Au, Pt, Ag, Pd, Ir, Cu, and binary PtAu and PdAu alloy nanoparticles (NPs); (b) AgxAu100-x (atomic ratio) nanoalloys with x = 10, 30, 50, 70, and 90.

Figure 2. Schematic illustration of the ‘comb-electrode’ setup for the cathodic corrosion method . The block diagram of the global design of the setup (a), the complete cell system (b), the electrode feeding component (c) and an enlarged ‘comb’ consisting of 5 electrode pairs (d). A micrometer screw mounted on the comb electrodes was used to precisely adjust their submersion depth (measured from the moment the electrode touches the liquid surface) in the liquid.


Producing an extensive variety of nanoparticles and their alloys makes this method unique for almost all applications among:

1. Medical 
2. Catalysts 
3. Optoelectronics
4. Conductive inks
5. Antibacterial applications (low-cost sub-10-nm silver nanoparticles) 


Leiden University is looking for industrial strategic partners for (exclusive) licensing of technology and / or further research and development.

Keywords: alloy, antibacterial, catalysis, cathodic corrosion, colloidal, electrochemical methods, high purity, metal, metal alloy, metal nanoparticle, nanocomposite, nanoparticle, nanoparticle production, silver nanoparticle

Key benefits

  • Simple, cost-effective and easily scalable
  • Versatile: all metals, metal alloys, oxides can be produced
  • Precisely engineered sizes, compositions, shapes, and dispersity
  • Compatible with industrial lines
  • Unique (combine central features from both ‘dry’ aerosol and wet-chemistry methods)

Luris reference number


Patent status

Patent rights are being acquired in EU, USA, Japan and China.