Nanostructured MaterialsNanotechnology enables controllable manipulation of matter at or below molecular and supra-molecular length scales and is aimed at commercial utilization. Nanotech has and still is evolving from recent innovations in materials processing and characterization.
The benefits of using nanostructured materials are dependent upon the application:
- High-resolution structure and functional control is possible using nanosized building blocks
- High surface area materials enable fast kinetics in dynamic applications
- Relative ease of making intimate, homogeneous and well ordered composites and hybrids leads to interesting new mechanical and optical properties
- High surface to volume ratios in nano-sized semiconductors yields quantum dots
The approach can be "bottom up" or "top-down", or a combination of these. Nanostructured materials are characterized by the high surface- to- volume ratio of the interface of their components, which can include voids. As a consequence, the physical chemistry of these surfaces, whether between solid-gas, solid-solid, liquid-solid etc, is fundamental to their synthesis, characterisation, stability and usage.
We primarily apply the "bottom-up" approach to materials design, with molecular self-assembly, co-operative self-assembly, and more recently programmed assembly as the main tools of the bottom-up approaches. These are generally soft template routes to nanostructured materials. We often choose common surfactant molecules as removable scaffolds for making both hybrid and porous nanostructured materials, because these offer unrivalled control over structuring at molecular length scales, often with simple synthesis routes, near - ambient temperatures and pressures, and with high yields.