Project Overview

NIRT: Controlling Interfacial Activity of Nanoparticles: Robust Routes to Nanoparticle-based Capsules, Membranes, and Electronic Materials

# 0609107
Todd Emrick (Principal Investigator)
Thomas Russell (Co-Principal Investigator)
Narayanan Menon (Co-Principal Investigator)
Anthony Dinsmore (Co-Principal Investigator)

Intellectual Merit: This proposal was received in response to Nanoscale Science and Engineering initiative, NSF 05-610, category NIRT. The objective of this research is to prepare robust materials from nanometer-scale particles, termed nanoparticles. Gaining an understanding of the structure and physical behavior of nanoparticles is crucial for fully understanding their properties, but a significant challenge given the very small size of the particles. The approach is to prepare nanoparticles in unique ways, and with unique surface properties, that allow them to self-organize in the absence of external forces. This self-organization gives assembled nanoscale materials, such as ultra-thin sheets and capsules, where the thickness of the sheet or capsule wall is five nanometers or less. Performing chemical reactions on these assemblies converts them from nano-assemblies, with no mechanical integrity, into nano-materials that are surprisingly robust given their very small dimensions.

Broader Impact: The research carries critically important features that pertain both to technological advances and educational activities. Nanoscale devices, such as encapsulant and release systems used in therapeutic drug treatments, can be improved and refined through the use of nanoparticles as components of the therapy. In addition, nanoparticles, when used in conjunction with conventional membranes for water purification, can help remove water-borne contaminants, leaving clean drinking water following filtration. Finally, the self-organization of nanoparticles in solution provides stunningly beautiful microscopic images. These images convey the physical importance and visual appeal of the science done in the laboratories to the broader public, providing a source of science education in concert with artistic appeal.

Source: NSF