In nature, molecules organise into functional larger structures, a process also known as self-assembly. Scientists have followed this organisation in various nanotechnology applications. Being able to control self-assembly on multiple length scales would provide a powerful tool with limitless possibilities. Academic institutes and industrial partners joined forces under the umbrella of the EU-funded 'Hierarchical assembly in controllable matrices' (HIERARCHY) project to achieve this. They investigated different methods for the generation of nanostructures with molecular and larger scale organisation. Particles of different length scales and lattices in three dimensions were successfully formulated and subsequently tested in different applications. Additionally, novel nanoparticles with highly interesting optical properties were formulated and patented. Particular focus was given to the construction of new sensing platforms – especially biosensors – and for the targeting of small molecules to proteins. In this context, researchers explored the use of anisotropic materials to construct different scaffolds and successfully prepared a completely biomimetic gel. An additional highlight of the project entailed the integration of the generated materials to existing lab-on-a-chip technology. Considerable part of the project activities were devoted to the training of the recruited researchers both by the host institute and by the HIERARCHY network. The training programme was about nanoscience with emphasis on hierarchical assembly. The significant findings of the HIERARCHY project were published in high impact factor journals and led to the commercialisation of a particular product. Apart from advancing the nanotechnology field, these novel materials could find applications in the field of optics, biosciences and chemistry.
Nanomaterial, self-assembly, nanotechnology, biosensor, biomimetic gel, lab-on-a-chip, optics