CCMX Advanced Course: Inorganic Particle Synthesis by Precipitation

25-27 March 2019 – EPFL, Lausanne — Inorganic Particle Synthesis by Precipitation: From Nanoparticles to Self-organised Mesocrystals and from Theory to Practice


  • Introduction to the basics behind precipitation of inorganic powders in theory and in practice.
  • Discussion of the fundamental concepts of supersaturation, nucleation, growth and aggregation.
  • Brief introduction to some basic methods used for powder characterization.
  • Demonstration of real sample characterization and correct interpretation of the results collected.
  • Presentation of precipitation reactors from batch to continuous and in situ monitoring.
  • Presentation of “sol-gel” routes in both aqueous and non-aqueous environments.
  • Thermodynamic and kinetic modelling towards understanding growth mechanisms.


This course will take place from 25 to 27 March 2019 at EPFL, Lausanne.


This course may be validated for 1 ECTS credit in the doctoral programs of EPFL and ETH Zurich after acceptance by the corresponding institution. The credit will be attributed to students who pass the examination held on 27 March 2019 after the course.


Registration is only possible through the form found here.


Materials Institute, EPFL – Room MXC320


  • Precipitation basics – supersaturation, nucleation, growth and aggregation
  • Powder characterization – particle size, surface area, morphology (microscopy), X-ray powder diffraction, zeta potential and thermogravimetric analysis. 
  • Precipitation in practice – reactor engineering – from batch to continuous reactors
  • “Sol-gel” routes in both aqueous and non-aqueous environments and polyol routes
  • Modelling – solution thermodynamics, kinetics (population balance), aggregation, self-assembly
  • Case Studies – superparamagnetic iron oxides, towards Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for biomedical applications

Please note that while the theory presented in this course applies to all types of materials, the practical examples concentrate on inorganic materials. Also due to limited time only a brief overview of the theory can be given although key references for more advanced analysis are provided throughout.


Monday 25 March 2019

09:00 Welcome & self-introduction by participants
09:15 Precipitation Basics I – Growth and Aggregation
10:30 Coffee Break
11:00 Precipitation Basics II
12:30 Lunch together
14:00 Example of Kinetic Modelling and Test Case
15:30 Coffee break
16:00 Precipitation in Practice – Reactor Engineering – From Batch to Continuous Reactors
17:30 End of first day

Tuesday 26 March 2019

09:00 Powder Characterisation I
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Powder Characterisation II
12:30 Lunch together
14:00 Practical Demonstrations
15:30 Coffee break
16:00 Shape Control and Atomistic Modelling                                        
17:30 End of day two 

Wednesday 27 March 2019

09:00 Sol-gel Routes in both Aqueous and Non-aqueous Environments I  
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Sol-gel Routes in both Aqueous and Non-aqueous Environments II   
12:30 Lunch together
14:00 Examples and Case Studies – towards Good Manufacturing Practice
15:30 Concluding remarks, discussion
15:45 End of course 
16:00 – 17:00 Open book exam for students seeking credit


Prof. Paul Bowen (EPFL), Prof. Markus Niederberger (ETHZ), Dr. Andrea Testino (PSI), A. Carino (PSI), M.R. Andalibi (PSI).

Who should attend

Academic and industrial engineers, PhD students and researchers with an interest in the field.


The participation fee is CHF360 for doctoral students from EPFL, ETHZ, Empa, PSI and CSEM, CHF460 for other academic researchers. The registration fee for all other participants is CHF1500. The fee includes all lunches and coffee breaks. We will confirm the participation of students coming from institutions outside of Switzerland after all fees have been paid. Please note that any bank transfer fees must be covered by the participant.