Facile Thermal and Optical Ignition of Silicon Nanoparticles and Micron Particles

Huang, S., Lingamneni, S., Xiaolin Zheng, et al., 2017, "Facile Thermal and Optical Ignition of Silicon Nanoparticles and Micron Particles," Nano Letters, Vol. 17, pp. 5925–5930.

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Silicon (Si) particles are widely utilized as high capacity electrodes for Li-ion batteries, elements for thermoelectric devices, agents for bioimaging and therapy, and many other applications. However, Si particles can ignite and burn in air at elevated temperatures or under intense illumination. This poses potential safety hazards when handling, storing, and utilizing these
particles for those applications. In order to avoid the problem of accidental ignition, it is critical to quantify the ignition properties of Si particles such as their sizes and porosities. To do so, we first used differential scanning calorimetry to experimentally determine the reaction onset temperature of Si particles under slow heating rates (∼0.33 K/s). We found that the reaction onset temperature of Si particles increased with the particle diameter from 805 °C at 20−30 nm to 935 °C at 1−5 μm. Then, we used a xenon (Xe) flash lamp to ignite Si particles under fast heating rates (∼103 to 106 K/s) and measured the minimum ignition radiant fluence (i.e., the radiant energy per unit surface area of Si particle beds required for ignition). We found that the measured minimum ignition radiant fluence decreased with decreasing Si particle size and was most sensitive to the porosity of the Si particle bed. These trends for the Xe flash ignition experiments were also confirmed by our one-dimensional unsteady simulation to model the heat transfer process. The quantitative information on Si particle ignition included in this Letter will guide the safe handling, storage, and utilization of Si particles for diverse applications and prevent unwanted fire hazards.

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