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INSITUNANO Report Summary

Project ID: 279342
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: United Kingdom

Final Report Summary - INSITUNANO (In-situ metrology for the controlled growth and interfacing of nanomaterials)

Nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, semiconducting nanowires and 2D materials like graphene, are set to have revolutionary impact on an ever increasing number of sectors, ranging from energy conversion and storage, information/communication technologies to biotechnology and environmental technology. A crucial bottleneck is that these nanomaterials can not yet be grown at sufficient level of structural control and scale, and that their actual device behaviour in industrially relevant devices/environments is not fully understood. This project has systematically employed a wide range of new characterisation/metrology techniques to unlock the huge technological potential of such nanomaterials and nanoengineering through an unprecedentedly detailed, fundamental and holistic understanding of crystal growth, materials design and integrated functionality. The project successfully adopted techniques ranging from environmental transmission and scanning electron microscopy to high-pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, in-situ scanning tunnelling microscopy and in-situ X-ray diffraction to directly reveal key atomic mechanisms during the actual growth process as well as during actual device operation under realistic, industrially relevant operation conditions. This in-situ metrology approach has been hugely successful and the project continuously pushed the frontiers of metrology as well as significantly advanced the industrial materials development in particular for emerging materials like graphene and related 2D materials. The understanding derived forms the cornerstone of the process industrialisation and integration strategies for all future applications of these materials. The project revealed striking new crystal growth behaviour on the nanoscale and allowed to establish a new framework for crystal growth for nanotubes, nanowires and 2D materials. The project thereby opened novel pathways to controllably grow and engineer complex heterostructures at the nanoscale.The project addressed critical performance parameters for a number of applications, in particular succeeded to design new carbon-nanotube-based dry adhesive structures that mimic the adhesive as well as self-cleaning properties of pads of insects, spiders and geckos, and established a new approach for probing detailed lithiation kinetics of nano-structured Si which could accelerate the commercialisation of next-generation high capacity batteries. The project also laid the materials foundations for neuromorphic computing approaches and novel opto/electronic and quantum devices.

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United Kingdom
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