Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - NANOTAIL (Hybrid Nanocrystals Exhibiting Advanced and Tailored Properties)

The host's (IESL/FORTH) existing know-how on photonics, laser-nanostructuring of materials and epitaxial structures of more conventional III-V or nitride semiconductors and functional organic molecules, certainly offered a competent working framework (experiment and theory) that was planned to contribute to the complementary field of colloidal nanostructures throughout the course of the NANOTAIL. In our project the need of interaction with other laboratories and the necessity of knowledge transfer amongst them was an essential factor. With the implementation of the NANOTAIL (an interdisciplinary project) we aimed to extend the interconnection and synchronisation of research activities and available equipment at the host in conjunction with the unique techniques and know-how existing in the participating partners (NNL and CEMES) and selected collaborating (IIT, Univ. Pavia, Univ. Duisburg) Institutes from within the EC.

The main challenge was the development of a nanochemistry laboratory facility to be realised within a frontier research topic that of hybrid nanocrystals (HNCs). We have achieved to setup such an interdisciplinary working laboratory and build a strategic network of close collaborators of high value for eventually becoming competitive in the international landscape. We are in position to say that we have developed important fundamental knowledge to gain some control on the architectural complexity of technologically important nanoscale systems. For example, in an effort to integrate non-homologous physical properties (c.f. magnetism and optical response) on a single nanoscale building block, NANOTAIL aimed to develop new architectures where at least one component (either as a seed NC or as a secondary inorganic domain) was of the magnetic spinel iron oxide phase [FexOy], a material with significant technological potential, e.g. ranging from magnetic recording to biomedical diagnostics.

NANOTAIL necessitated a steep learning process so that the team at the host could address exploratory wet chemical fabrication of HNC architectures based mainly on transition metal oxides. This latter choice rest on the fact that synthetic progress has been limited as compared to other materials associations, like that involving chalcogenide semiconductors [Cd(S/Se/Te)]. Optimisation of the reaction schemes in an effort to avoid detrimental effects on the properties of the hybrid nansocale structure required us to obtain deep structural insight to decide on factors that control geometric parameters of the oxide seeds, their HNCs and their configurations (e.g. hetero-oligomer versus clustering).

Having achieved control over these previous steps, the milestone to build magneto-optical HNCs was addressed by deliberate selection of another luminescent material domain to be grown [zinc oxide= ZnO] or by controlling the spatial arrangement (photonic crystal-like behaviour) of the colloidal HNCs by the directed assembly of their ensemble utilising external forces (e.g. magnetic field). Such a research progress was only possible because of the transfer of know-how from our selected partners, which entailed a combination of novel synthetic techniques as well as the appropriate, for nanoscale building blocks, advanced tools for structural and physical property characterisation. The planned recruitment strategy allowed us to facilitate (a) bi-directional working level interactions between team-members and partners and (b) access as well as get trained on the most up-to-date instrumentation - methods. Furthermore, the project has generated interest within the host itself by means of catalysing synergistic actions with fellow researchers pursuing projects at the edge of nanoscience (e.g. in photonics or bio-inspired materials, involving common experiments and exploring funding opportunities).

In summary, the new laboratory at IESL/FORTH is structured so that it can provide a high-level training framework for young scientists, anticipated to have a catalytic contribution in developing their career through research synergies in a cross-disciplinary field (i.e. nanosciences) of high importance within the European research system.

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