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Nanoporous Silica Gel as a Highly-Retentive Doping Substrate

Technology #20160377

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William Nachlas
Earth Sciences, College of Science and Engineering
Managed By
Larry Micek
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-9568
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed
Precise and Accurate Doping of Nanoporous Silica Gel for the Synthesis of Trace Element Microanalytical Reference Materials
Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, Volume 40, Issue 4; December 2016; Pages 505–516

Calibration Materials from Silica Gel and Titanium

Microanalytical calibration materials can be synthesized from doped silica gel (or doped silica glass) with trace-level chemical precision (within 10 ppm of a target concentration) and acceptable homogeneity. The procedure begins by preparing a doping substrate (commercially available nanoporous silica gel) and then immersing it in a nonpolar liquid solvent medium. A dopant source (titanium) is added and the doped substrate is then hot-pressed to synthesize high-density glasses (quartz). The homogeneity of the resulting reference materials was shown to contain relatively uniform titanium (Ti) contents at the intra-grain, inter-grain and grain population scale. Reference materials synthesized by this technology may be suitable for geochemical analysis, bulk analysis and microanalysis with electron, laser and ion-beam techniques.

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  • Royalty rate of 3% (2% for MN company)
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Trace Element Doped Glasses

Determination of trace-element concentration in glass is important in a variety of fields. Most analytical instrumentation is comparative and therefore requires a sample of known composition (reference material) for accurate calibration. However, some of the current reference materials either become unavailable or are only available to a restricted group of people, while other synthetic materials available commercially or from institutions and research centers sometimes lack broad availability and/or acceptable characterization. This technology provides a cost-effective and relatively straightforward method to fabricate trace element doped glasses, resulting in a well-characterized reference material available to the entire micro-analytical community. Synthesizing glasses with very precise chemical compositions yields materials with precisely quantified compositions essential for calibrating analytical instruments. Advantages include using a commercially available, low-cost and chemically-inert doping substrate and a dopant source that is available for many different elements.


  • Trace-level chemical precision (within 10 ppm of a target concentration)
  • Substrate (glass) is commercially available, low-cost and chemically-inert
  • Acceptable homogeneity: elements uniformly dispersed at the intra-grain, inter-grain and grain population scale
  • Uses commercially available nanoporous silica gel
  • Makes standards for many different elements


  • Reference materials for geochemical analysis
  • Calibrating analytical instruments
  • Prepare glasses for a wide variety of optical and industrial purposes
  • Analytical measurements requiring a sample of known composition (reference material) for accurate calibration
  • Microanalytical calibration materials
  • Forensic science
  • Archeological chemistry
  • Petrology
  • Reference materials for elemental analysis
  • Construction industry, to determine chemical composition of alkali-resistant glass filaments used as reinforcing materials
  • Specialty glasses

Phase of Development - Working prototype