Nano Self-Assembly: An NSTI Executive Briefing
October 30, 2004
Move over carbon nanotubes. Another maturing vein of nano-science, "nano-structured fluids," is capturing the imagination of some of the nation's top nano researchers.by Vance McCarthy
Move over carbon nanotubes. Another maturing vein of nano-science, "nano-structured fluids," is capturing the imagination of some of the nation's top nano researchers.
The Nano Science and Technology Institute (NSTI) will for the first time, provide an international briefing on why "nano-structured fluids" research is poised to dramatically change the direction of traditional nano-materials work, in a variety of unexpected ways.
Dynamic Self-Assembly: Nano-Structured Fluids' Hidden Gold
Nano-structured fluids research has long been the domain of consumer products and foods companies such as L’Oréal, Proctor and Gamble, and Nestlé. Innovative work on next-generation consumer products such as cosmetics, paints, ice cream, and shampoo has been based on nano-structured fluids science for years.
"We view nano-structured fluids as a major growth area for business and scientific development. The capability of this area of science to unlock principals of self-assembly has the potential to greatly impact and accelerate commercialization of nanotechnology." Said Bart Romanowicz, NSTI executive director of technology.
But, new revelations over nano-structured fluids' remarkable property of "dynamic self-assembly" are bringing new nano-scientists to the table, according to Fiona Case, the Nanotech 2005 program chair for the event's first Nano-Structured Fluids symposium.
”In a fluid system, molecules, such as surfactants and block copolymers, or larger structures such as colloids, are free to flow around and assemble themselves into new nano-scale materials, this simply can’t happen with solids " Case said. "And, while it has long been an area of research among foods, chemical, oil and cosmetic companies, the implications for nano-materials, that go into semiconductors, for instance, are only just beginning to be understood. The broader nanotechnology community is waking up to the potential for dynamic self-assembly in a wide range of different applications."
Probing Nano's Secret of Self-Assembly
Just how big might "dynamic self-assembly" be to nano materials research? Well, some top scientists believe it could be quite big, it seems.
Researchers at Argonne National Lab's materials science division, said, "Dynamic self-assembly [which is] the spontaneous organization of materials into complex morphologies, constitutes one of the greatest hopes to nanofabrication's challenge to create ever smaller structures,"
Putting money and research cycles where their mouth is, at present Argonne is conducting research into new metal-based nano-fluids that would be used to dramatically enhance the thermal conductivity of conventional heat transfer fluids and flow smoothly in microchannel passages.
On the commercial side, IBM recently highlighted the potential for block-copolymer self-assembly to create nanometer size structures for electronics application. Elsewhere, a commercial research project is using dynamic self-assembly to develop a new prototype paint that would allow walls to react to changes in temperature or moisture by changing colors.
During Nanotech 2005, May 8-12, Anaheim, CA. Case will chair an all-expert symposium that will further explore the State-of-the-Art of nano-structured fluids and dynamic self-assembly The symposium will include presentations from some of the leading academic groups, who will introduce self-assembled nanostructured fluids (or soft condensed matter), and share the latest developments; and also from companies who already utilize these materials such as Proctor and Gamble, Nestle and IBM. Her goal, she says, "is to help scientists that wouldn't normally think to talk to one another, tap into one another's latest discoveries."
For example, Case points out, "If I were to mention 'soft, condensed matter,' I don't think a lot of nano materials scientists would jump up and say 'That's for me.' But, the advances in computer modeling and simulation experiments (which will be featured at the Nanotech2005 symposium) make it a lot easier to put the 'fluids' scientists in the room right next to the 'materials' scientists and get them to suddenly recognize how the one area of research is applicable to the other," Case said.
"With graphics and the latest computer models of these new materials, you can get down to "First Principles" and that's where you can get professionals across fields to suddenly understand nano-structured fluids and self assembly, and apply it to their own work in amazing ways," she added.
Unlocking Nature's Own Nano-Construction Secrets
Taken another way, "dynamic self-assembly" also presents principals based on Nature's own construction approaches.
"Natural systems form nano-scale structures," Case points out. "Cells, bone, nerves all are structures on the length scales interesting to those attending Nanotech 2005. " And, these natural structures "do not require huge chemical plant and input of energy," Case said, adding: “Nature's nano-scale structures [are] formed at room temperature using the energy released from a slice of pizza. This is because natural systems use the approach of self-assembly in a fluid system."
She also added that the science of nano-structured fluids may provide some valuable insights into Nature's energy-efficient approach to nano-based construction.
"We don't yet understand how to design molecules that self-assemble into the complex structures nature creates, but we can certainly design materials that form rods or spheres, or hollow balls. And even with these simple building blocks we can start to create some quite complex structures"
Nanotech2005 Dynamic Self-Assembly Program
The keynoter for Case's Nano-Structured Fluids and Self-Assembly panel, Tim Lodge of the University of Minnesota, is a leader in researching how to design molecules that will self assemble in a controlled manner to create a specified structure. Lodge wil be joined by a distinguished group of other international researchers from the commercial and academic arenas. Among the highlighted topics and speakers are:
- Application of Polymer Self Assembly to Semiconductor Microelectronics
Chuck Black, IBM, York Town, US
- Cubosome formation via dilution – kinetic effects and consumer product implications
Pat Spicer, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, US
- Food Goes Nano -Novel Nano Sized Liquid Vehicles and Technology for Solubilization of Nutraceuticals in Foods
Nissim Garti, Nutralease and the Hebrew University, IL
- Small-angle scattering characterization of block copolymer micelles and lyotropic liquid crystals
Paschalis Alexadridis, State University of New York at Buffalo
- Soft Glasses and Gels - From Colloid Physics to Food Technology
Peter Schurtenberger, Department of Physics of the University of Fribourg, CH
- Benefits of Nanoscience in Foods
- Martin Michel, Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland
- Simulation of Nanostructured Fluids, Soft Materials, and Self-Assembly
Toshihiro Kawakatsu, Tohoku University, Japan
- Recent Applications of Mesoscale Modeling to Nanotechnology and Drug Delivery
Amitesh Maiti, Accelrys, San Diego, US