Innovative R&D and Computational Nanoscience Redefines Nanophase Materials

September 16, 2004

Groundbreaking progress in nanotechnology is giving rise to heightened interest among investors, manufacturers, and other market participants. With progress comes new issues and challenges for theoretical scientists and, accordingly, increased demand for high-end research procedures and tools.

“Most of the research happening now is focused on improving upon existing materials properties or developing new materials,” says Technical Insights Research Analyst Hrishikesh Bidwe. “These materials will initially find use in various high performance industries, such as aerospace and defense. If price can be significantly reduced, consumer applications will probably become the major market for nanophase materials.”

Besides aerospace and defense, nanomaterials also will find increasing use in a variety of applications in various industries, including the automotive, healthcare, medicine, and electronics industries. The dimensional advantages offered by ultra-thin nanoscale films, for example, are optimal for their large-scale integration into micro- and nano-devices, and for device scaling.

In thin film applications, nanotechnology circumvents the disadvantages of having to perform thickness reduction in coatings and thin film materials. Further, the incorporation of nanophase materials has promoted thin film adhesion, providing significant performance advantages.

However, the economic fabrication of ultra-thin film coatings on a large scale poses a significant challenge. It requires precise and strict requirements and extremely clean conditions, since even the most miniature contaminant can adversely affect performance.

“New procedures are also necessary to measure and characterize the mechanical and electrical properties of ultra-thin films,” says Bidwe. “Nanoindentation tests have proven valuable, yet the scope for improvement and introduction of new methods remains vast.”

Nanotech-based quantum dots impart special optical and electrical properties to materials that are significant from fundamental and technological perspectives. Quantum dots are able to emit a wide range of wavelengths of light with changes in size. This property may allow the incorporation of quantum dots into applications such as tunable lasers and other optical components.

Still, much work must be done to reach viable applications. Since even a slight change in its properties can radically alter a quantum dot’s performance, the control of properties often creates difficulties in device applications. In grown quantum dot arrays, quantum dots frequently tend to clump, causing unwanted size variations. This offsets a quantum effect that is critical for optoelectronics.

Researchers have recently developed a technique that allows nanocrystals to self-assemble into sturdy and orderly arrangements, each insulated from the other by a layer of silicon dioxide. This method, which is both inexpensive and potentially commercially viable, prevents quantum dots from clumping.

Research in quantum dots has progressed from continuous improvement of synthesis and manipulation of individual quantum dots to creation of high-density quantum dot assemblies and preliminary fabrication of real-life optoelectronic and biomedical devices.

Other potential applications include the production of lasers, detectors, optical amplifiers, transistors, tunneling diodes, and other devices, and quantum dots may find use in forgery prevention and quantum computing.

“Pioneering developments in fundamental nanotechnology and innovative techniques such computational nanoscience are improving the ability to fabricate materials and incorporate them into devices,” says Bidwe. “With this, the emerging field of nanotechnology is moving out of laboratories toward real-world applications and commercialization.”

Nanophase Materials, part of the Automation and Electronics Vertical Subscription Service, underscores new and influential developments in nanotechnology. The research analyzes technological advances in quantum dots, ultra-thin films, and computational nanoscience, among other nanomaterials innovations. It also identifies key companies and developers, and provides estimates of timelines for commercialization of the technology. Executive summaries and interviews are available to the press.

If you are interested in an analysis overview which provides manufacturers, end-users and other industry participants an overview, summary, challenges and latest coverage of Nanophase Materials – then send an email to Julia Paulson – North American Corporate Communications at jpaulson@frost.com with the following information: Full name, Company Name, Title, Contact Tel Number, Contact Fax Number, Email. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be emailed to you.

Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alert, newsletter, and report services.

Frost & Sullivan, an international growth consultancy, has been supporting clients' expansion for more than four decades. Our market expertise covers a broad spectrum of industries, while our portfolio of advisory competencies includes custom strategic consulting, market intelligence, and management training. Our mission is to forge partnerships with our clients' management teams to deliver market insights and to create value and drive growth through innovative approaches. Frost & Sullivan's network of consultants, industry experts, corporate trainers, and support staff spans the globe with offices in every major country.

Source: Technical Insights

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