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Self-Assembled Nanostructures for Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Nanomaterials

Final Report Summary - NANO-MAT (Self-Assembled Nanostructures for Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Nanomaterials)

Final Publishable summary

In this work, various nanostructures are formed by peptide-based molecules. These organic nanostructures were utilised to form new functional organic-inorganic hybrid systems. The periphery of the nanostructures is functionalised with metal binding groups. A template-directed approach is used to create hybrid organic-inorganic nanomaterials.

Here, we studied template-directed synthesis of high-aspect ratio TiO2 and ZnO with the help of self-assembled soft materials. Template-directed inorganic nanostructures were prepared by proper functionalisation of the self-assembling peptide-based molecules. Obtained nanostructured materials were successfully utilised in DSSC application and photocatalysis. Template-directed metal oxide formation is a stimulating technology, where mono-disperse one-dimensional nanostructured materials with high surface area can be constructed. The diameter and the length of the resulting metal oxide nanostructures can be controlled by the size of the one-dimensional organic template. Titania (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles have been used for dye-sensitised solar cell (DSSC) applications as electron harvesting and transporting materials (Gr?tzel cell). DSSCs consist of a dye, a porous high surface area metal oxide, a collector electrode, a redox couple and a regeneration electrode. There is a strong need for high-aspect ratio TiO2 nanostructures for increased dye adsorption and energy conversion studies.

Organic-inorganic hybrid nanostructures were also used for catalysis applications. Peptide nanofibers templated Pd (0) nanocatalysts were utilised in C-C bond forming reactions. In addition, helical nanostructures can be developed for chiral supramolecular catalysis. Hydrogen bonding orientation determines the shape of the nanostructures. Developing supramolecular catalysts through templated synthesis can enhance reaction rate and specificity through increased reaction surface and the ability to present multifunctional reactive groups in close proximity.

In summary, we developed efficient devices such as solar cells and catalysts. Nanostructured TiO2 and ZnO nanotubes were exploited in photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue dye as well. Moreover peptide nanofiber templated Pd (0) catalyst was employed in Suzuki-Miyaura coupling reactions. In addition, peptide templated Au (0) has also been shown as resistive switching and has potential in applications such as electronics and optics.

Our multidisciplinary approach includes construction of chemically active nanostructures through bio-inspired interactions. This novel class of nanostructures is used to enhance properties of materials used for solar cells and catalysts. The interdisciplinary research described here requires collaboration of researchers from chemistry, biology and materials science.

We believe that nanomaterials demonstrated here and devices constructed from these materials will make significant contribution to alternative energy and catalysis technologies. More efficient technologies are expected to reduce energy costs and provide us with sustainable and environment friendly energy sources. Socio-economic impact of innovative technologies of this kind is exclusively beneficial and hard to overestimate.