A huge number of industrial processes and products are based on the peculiar properties of functional organised micro and nanostructures. They are generally believed to gain even more importance in the future. Besides a benefit to the quality of human life, an increasing knowledge in this field represents a great scientific challenge. At the length scale of microstructures, the classical differentiation between various disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology) becomes less pronounced. Therefore, a multidisciplinary approach is mandatory. Questions about the chemistry in a supramolecular system cannot be easily answered without physical knowledge about, for instance, interparticle interactions or charge effects.
Similarly, an enzymatic site may be simulated by a polymer gel matrix or an aggregate of colloidal particles with internal cavities of controlled size and functionality. Typical examples of organised microstructures are the systems in which amphiphilic molecules self-assemble. The presence of interfaces, with the small energies involved, gives rise to phases with a great structural richness and very sensitive to small perturbations, like the ones produced by the addition of colloidal objects: polymers, proteins or microscopic solid particles. The present Conference aims to stimulate multidisciplinary research in such a continuously evolving field, with particular attention to the biological area since biotechnology is believed to become increasingly important in the future. The Conference is characterised by an introductory section of physical aspects of common interest. Then, three sections are devoted to the biological field, like, for example, enzymatic reactions in increasingly more complex media: monolayers, membrane like structures and in crystals. Chemistry applications are discussed with a broader spectrum, ranging from polymer microcapsules, to gels, to organised molecular phases. A stimulating talk connected to environmental problems is also envisaged.