This Facility’s expertise lies in the areas of synthesis and characterization of nanocrystals, nanotubes and nanowires, including the preparation, characterization and applications of novel inorganic nanomaterials. Facility staff study the science of optimally preparing, characterizing and utilizing inorganic nanostructures, with an emphasis on semiconductor nanocrystals and nanowires, as well as carbon nanostructures, with controlled size, shape, connectivity and topology. Both staff and User research projects encompass the design, synthesis and materials characterization of new nanostructures, and the use of these in functional, multi-component devices. Robotic synthesis of nanocrystals and molecular metal chalcogenide clusters are also of particular interest.
Highlighted Research Programs
Robotic Screening of Upconverting Nanocrystals
Upconverting nanocrystals co-doped with multiple lanthanide ions have been used to provide a robust, low-background method for imaging biological molecules and nanomaterials under infrared excitation. Combinatorial screening and theoretical modeling of lanthanide dopants have identified nanocrystal compositions with spectrally pure emission, which is ideal for the simultaneous imaging of multiple species.
Hybrid Materials for Thermoelectrics and Hydrogen Storage
New organic-inorganic nanocomposties have been developed that unite the unique benefits of inorganic and organic materials into one hybrid material and could be used for next-generation thermoelectrics and hydrogen storage materials. New transport properties arise at these hard/soft interfaces and account for the enhanced thermoelectric transport behavior. In another application, nanoscale metals provide rapid hydrogen storage kinetics in comparison to their bulk counterparts. Their integration into polymer hybrids results in robust and high-density hydrogen cycling.
Semiconductor Nanowire Heterostructures
Manipulation of local electronic structure is necessary to control exciton generation or annihilation, processes essential for efficient light absorption or emission. This can be achieved through band gap engineering in semiconductor heterostructures. Methods have been established for the synthesis of arrays of semiconducting nanowire-based heterostructures. These structures are a promising platform for the development of unconventional light emitting and energy harvesting devices.
Hierarchical Mesoporous Architectures
Channels in mesoporous materials can serve as corridors for ions traveling to a battery terminal or provide a large surface areas to absorb carbon dioxide. Here, mesoporous architectures are assembled from specialized block copolymers and ligand-stripped nanocrystals.