Multifunctional Nanomaterials for Separation and Sensing
To develop systems for sensing, separation, prevention, and treatment in national security and other areas, researchers are investigating novel materials capable of electrochemical communications on multiple-length scales. This work requires a fundamental understanding of
- How particular functionalities can be incorporated in a complex material
- How these functionalities interact to promote a targeted response
- How the response can be engineered to be selective and reproducible across length scales from nanometers to centimeters or larger.
The approach by which such integrated materials are produced demands understanding of grand challenges in correlation of function with attendant chemistry and structure at the molecular, nanoscale, and even large scales.
Initially, the Transformational Materials Science Initiative's researchers are focusing on electrochemically active materials that can effectively convert chemical and biological events into electronic signals, the reverse problem of the electricity-to-chemical conversion, and novel mechanisms that can amplify electronic signals. Such signal transduction and amplification remain the most important challenges in developing and deploying sensors and detectors.
Self-assembly or bio-inspired methods are being used to synthesize the desired nanostructures and nanoparticle arrays. Such molecularly organized nanostructures are being used to study these scientific questions:
- How do the ordered/disordered structures on the molecular and nanoscale affect the overall electrical and mechanical properties of the systems?
- How does the surface chemistry or interfacial chemistry affect the specific responses?
- What are the fundamental charge transport mechanisms and how do the microstructure and the molecular chemistry affect such properties?