Fine particles can be produced via aerosol processes either by means of vapor phase reactions that produce solid or liquid particles or by reactions between a preexisting solid or liquid particle and a reactive gas. This article examines the latter processes because a strong interest has developed in the production of materials via aerosol processing. Although fine particles are frequently produced using flow systems, such as in the laminar flow aerosol reactor of McRae and his co-workers, fundamental studies of the chemical kinetics are more readily done using single microparticles or microdroplets. Design of an aerosol reactor requires knowledge of the reaction rates, for there must be a sufficient residence time of the reacting species in the reactor to complete the desired reaction.
Matijević reviewed early work on preparing well-defined and very pure metal oxides by hydrolysis of alkoxide aerosol particles, and Ingebrethsen and co-workers studied the hydrolysis rates of aerosol droplets of aluminum and titanium alkoxides and mixtures of the two alkoxides. Following Matijevic and his colleagues, Okuyama et al. used the thermal decomposition of metal alkoxide vapors to produce ultrafine particles of the oxides of titanium, silicon, and aluminum. The preparation of polymeric aerosols has been studied by Partch et al. and by Ward et al. The latter investigators used single-particle techniques (the electrodynamic balance) to obtain polymerization rate data for the photochemical polymerization of acrylamide monomer microparticles.