Considerable research efforts still need to be devoted to the integrated processing of nanomaterials and composite nanostructures. Cutting-edge results are nowadays awaited from special field- and pressure-assisted synthesis and processing technologies dev eloped during the past few years. Processing under extreme pressure and temperature conditions leads to important changes of the density, electron configuration and free energy of the constituent phases.
The resulting chemical equilibrium changes allow the access to a wide range of new compounds. External pressure can further induce reactions between chemical components at much lower temperatures, thus facilitating the synthesis of metastable phases with valuable modified properties. Special techniques such as field-assisted or microwave sintering are examples of highly promising approaches towards the synthesis of bulk materials with ultra-fine microstructures.
A special and promising feature of these new technologies is the ability to consolidate dissimilar materials (metallic particles, polymers, ceramics) into complex nanostructured systems, such as composite bulk nanomaterials, thin films, coatings and nanosize clusters deposited on substrates. Hybrid technologies that integrate soft-chemical synthesis with mechanical activation, pulsed current, ultrasonic, laser or microwave radiation processing are at the forefront of technological development.
The versatility and innovative character of these new hybrid technologies result from the unique design of the processing sequence that alternates physical and chemical synthesis steps, accessing a variety of ways to influence the end-product material properties. The proposed training and research programme further addresses the essential question of ultra-fast energy transfer to the precursor materials during their non-equilibrium processing into nanostructured composites, one of the main advantages of modern field-assisted technologies over conventional approaches.
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