University of Richmond Science Colleagues Issued Patent for Gold Nanoparticle in Ceramic Glaze

February 25, 2021

Pictured above: Photo of glazing process provided by Ryan Coppage.

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Three science faculty colleagues at the University of Richmond have been issued a patent for a glaze process that is a safer and more cost-effective alternative to the current process of color ceramics. The patent is specifically for a “gold nanoparticle in ceramic glaze.”

The researchers on this patent include Ryan Coppage, director of introductory laboratories in the chemistry department; Michael Leopold, Floyd D. and Elisabeth S. Gottwald Professor of Chemistry; and Christine Lacy, director of microscopy and imaging in the biology department.

This technology will have wide commercial applicability, including the production of tiles and large-scale ceramics and will also be used by individual ceramic artists.

"This alternative coloring system for ceramic glazes uses a small amount of gold or silver nanoparticles, which are safer to include for food and beverages and also environmentally more friendly,” said Leopold. “Normal colorants usually involve toxic heavy metals."

This process was conceived and developed by Coppage, who directed the project, provided materials, and mentored the student researchers involved. The American Chemical Society has called his research the “gold standard” in safer ceramic coatings.

Coppage and Leopold have collaborated on this project since 2015, and Lacy ran microscopy samples in the Biological Imaging Lab. Testing and firing of the ceramic glaze formulation was performed at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, where Coppage is a part-time instructor.

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Media contact: Sunni Brown,, director of media and public relations