A process for the production of ultrafine powders consisting of individual particles with sizes in the range of 1 nm to 200 nm, which is based on the mechanical milling of two or more non-reacting powders. The process includes subjecting a suitable precursor metal compound and a non-reactant diluent phased to mechanical milling which through the process of mechanical activation reduces the microstructure of the mixture of the form of nano-sized grains of the metal compound uniformly dispersed in the diluent phase. Heat treating the milled powder converts the nano-sized grains of the precursor metal compound into a desired metal oxide phase. Alternatively, the precursor metal compound may itself be an oxide phase which has the requisite milling properties to form nanograins when milled with a diluent. An ultrafine powder is produced by removing the diluent phase such that nano-sized grains of the desired metal oxide phase are left behind. The process facilitates a significant degree of control over the particle size and size distribution of the particles in the ultrafine powder by controlling the parameters of mechanical activation and heat treatment.
PCT/AU99/00368 Also published as JP2002515393(T) ; IL139667(A): HK1037155(A1); EP1094910(A1):EP1094910 (A4); CN1300243 (A); CN1123415(C); CA2332013 (A1); CA2332013(C)