CONTEXT - Nanoporous structures are used for application in catalysis, molecular separation, fuel cells, dye sensitized solar cells etc. Given the near molecular size of the porous network, it is extremely challenging to modify the interior surface of the pores after the nanoporous material has been synthesized.
THIS PROPOSAL - Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is envisioned as a novel technique for creating catalytically active sites and for controlling the pore size distribution in nanoporous materials. ALD is a self-limited growth method that is characterized by alternating exposure of the growing film to precursor vapours, resulting in the sequential deposition of (sub)monolayers. It provides atomic level control of thickness and composition, and is currently used in micro-electronics to grow films into structures with aspect ratios of up to 100 / 1. We aim to make the fundamental breakthroughs necessary to enable atomic layer deposition to engineer the composition, size and shape of the interior surface of nanoporous materials with aspect ratios in excess of 10,000 / 1.
POTENTIAL IMPACT Achieving these objectives will enable atomic level engineering of the interior surface of any porous material. We plan to focus on three specific applications where our results will have both medium and long term impacts:
- Engineering the composition of pore walls using ALD, e.g. to create catalytic sites (e.g. Al for acid sites, Ti for redox sites, or Pt, Pd or Ni)
- chemical functionalization of the pore walls with atomic level control can result in breakthrough applications in the fields of catalysis and sensors.
- Atomic level control of the size of nanopores through ALD controlling the pore size distribution of molecular sieves can potentially lead to breakthrough applications in molecular separation and filtration.
- Nanocasting replication of a mesoporous template by means of ALD can result in the mass-scale production of nanotubes.
Fields of science
- engineering and technologymaterials engineeringcoating and films
- engineering and technologyelectrical engineering, electronic engineering, information engineeringelectronic engineeringsensors
- natural sciencesphysical scienceselectromagnetism and electronicsmicroelectronics
- natural scienceschemical sciencescatalysis
- engineering and technologyenvironmental engineeringenergy and fuelsfuel cells
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