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Engineering nanoscale self-organisation to control electromagnetic properties

EU-funded scientists have for the first time demonstrated the control of a special type of nano-scale self-assembly to produce novel electromagnetic functionalities. Superlenses and solar energy collectors are among the expected beneficiaries.
Engineering nanoscale self-organisation to control electromagnetic properties
Self-assembly and self-organisation of molecules and materials are governed by a complex interplay of physical and chemical properties of the system. Control of such self-organisation, particularly at the nano scale, has become an important endeavour in materials development for novel functionalities and new devices.

Eutectic growth characterised by the cooperative formation of two solid phases from a liquid is recognised as a novel paradigm for pattern formation. However, until now, it had not been used for the controlled production of geometrical motifs with novel and predictable electromagnetic functionalities. Such control required much deeper understanding of the underlying processes of eutectic organisation.

The EU-funded project ENSEMBLE developed the necessary modelling tools, technologies and materials to support light manipulation in solar cells, super lenses and other applications.

ENSEMBLE's impact on both research and industry cannot be underestimated. The numerous modelling tools developed are applicable to both basic and applied research. Many of the materials and technologies are close to marketability and patent applications have already been submitted for two manufacturing processes. Close collaboration among partners has resulted in the integration of ENSEMBLE outcomes into numerous other research projects in which partners are or will be participating.

Overall, ENSEMBLE has successfully spurred the global research community into active investigation and control of eutectic growth. The novel electromagnetic functionalities achieved will ensure the advent of amazing new devices for light manipulation in the near future.

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