The design of hierarchically structured nano- and microparticles of different sizes, porosities, surface areas, compositions, and internal structures from nanoparticle building blocks is important for new or enhanced application properties of high-quality products in a variety of industries. Spray-drying processes are well-suited for the design of hierarchical structures of multicomponent products. This structure design using various nanoparticles as building blocks is one of the most important challenges for the future to create products with optimized or completely new properties. Furthermore, the transfer of designed nanomaterials to large-scale products with favorable handling and processing can be achieved. The resultant aggregate structure depends on the utilized nanoparticle building blocks as well as on a large number of process and formulation parameters. In this study, structure formation and segregation phenomena during the spray drying process were investigated to enable the synthesis of tailor-made nanostructures with defined properties. Moreover, a theoretical model of this segregation and structure formation in nanosuspensions is presented using a discrete element method simulation.
Keywords: aggregate structure; iron oxide; multicomponent; nanoparticles; silica; spray drying; zirconia.