Nano Materials

Creating tailored nanoparticles and materials

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Nanoparticles and nanostructures change the properties of materials, and extensive research is under way to understand the correlation between the scale of materials and their properties. The goal is to be able to create tailored nanoparticles and materials for different purposes. Applications cover a wide range, from, for example, materials for light-emitting diodes and nanoprobes to wear-resistant surfaces for cutting tools.

The research at LiU comprises not only basic research into nanomaterials but also applied research in close collaboration with Swedish industry. Wear-resistant coatings for cutting tools is one example in which research at LiU is among the international leaders. These nanomaterials are of a type known as “mesoporous” and can be used also in catalysis, the delivery of pharmaceuticals into cells, and as patterns for the manufacture of nanoparticles.

Basic research here aims to understand in detail the complex relationships between the chemistry of materials, the physical forces that act between the atoms in various atomic structures, and how this influences the properties of the material. The aim of the research is to be able to manufacture thin films with tailored properties, one layer of atoms at a time. It is carried out across several research groups and covers a wide range: from developing theory by simulations in a supercomputer to experiments in a laboratory. It involves also new processes for the production of nanomaterials.

Other important fields are nanophotonics, nanomechanics (such as piezoelectrical nanostructures in zinc oxide), and, not least, the growth and characterisation of the optical and electrical properties of nanostructures of metal oxides and their composites. This research also has many practical applications.

A major research project is also under way at LiU to produce nanoparticles with the aid of plasma-pulse technology. This project, which is financed by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, involves researchers from several different fields and has as its goal the development of robust processes to produce nanoparticles with well-defined properties. The work has applications in many fields, such as polymeric light-emitting diodes, new batteries, fuel cells, and nanoprobes for medical applications.

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