NSTI Nanotech 2009

Soft Nanotechnology and Self-Assembly: Industrial Applications

Sunday May 3, 2009, 8:00 am - 6:00 pm, Houston, Texas

Technology Focus

The focus of this course is the design and application of nanostructured fluids and soft materials, with a particular emphasis on self-assembly processes.

Many soft or fluid consumer products, such as foods, paints, detergents, personal care products, and cosmetics contain nanometer to micron scale structures. These structures are formed by the spontaneous or directed self-assembly of surfactants and polymers. In many cases complex mixtures are required to create the desired structures and performance. These materials are difficult to formulate, and challenging to characterize; but scientists in these industries, and in the academic groups focusing on these areas, have developed considerable expertise in this area. New insights and techniques have the potential to revolutionize product design. This knowledge is being applied in new areas such as drug encapsulation, solubilization and delivery, in oil recovery, environmental remediation, and in new “active” cosmetics, nutraceuticals, antimicrobials and smart materials.

Members of the more broadly defined “nanotechnology community” are also increasingly interested in self-assembly and nanostructured fluids because of their potential to provide robust and inexpensive strategies for creating nanoscale materials. For example, IBM recently highlighted the potential for block-copolymer self-assembly to create nanometer size structures for chip fabrication, and soft nanostructured materials can provide templates for synthesis of nanoparticles.

Course Objectives

Graduates of this course will leave with a broad appreciation for current and future applications of soft nanostructured fluids, soft materials, and of self-assembly. They should have gained a sufficient grasp of the concepts and language to read and understand most research papers in these areas. They will be alerted to the latest developments in this fast moving field, and to approaches for designing materials for particular applications. They will have been introduced to characterization and to computer-modeling techniques appropriate for these materials. They will have gained insight into the surprising commonality to design of some very different products, and also the way soft materials are starting to be used to create “hard” nanostructures.

Course Outline

  • Introduction to soft materials and self-assembly: Why do these materials form nanoscale structures?
  • Introduction to the “ingredients” - surfactants, polymers, emulsions and colloids
  • Characterizing nanostructured fluids and soft materials
  • Properties of nanostructured fluids and soft materials
  • How to design nanostructured fluids and soft materials for particular applications: formulation
  • The use of computer modeling to predict nanoscale structure and properties
  • Applying our knowledge – case studies in personal care products, drug solubilization and delivery, nutraceuticals, enhanced oil-recovery, antimicrobial and cosmetic nanoemulsions, smart materials, food colloids, and templating of nanoparticles.

Course Instructor

Fiona Case

Fiona Case, is coordinator of soft nanotechnology programs at the NSTI, she has more than 15 years experience in the industrial applications of polymer and surfactant science. Her introduction to industrial polymer science was in the late 80’s at Courtaulds Research in the UK where she worked as part of the team developing Tencel - a new environmentally friendly solvent spun cellulose fiber. She also investigated the effects of polyacrylonitrile microstructure on carbon fiber performance using early molecular and quantum mechanics computer modeling techniques. Courtaulds' involvement as a founder member of the Biosym/Molecular Simulations Inc. (MSI) Polymer Consortium, one of the earliest materials simulation efforts, meant frequent trips to sunny San Diego, CA. In 1991 she moved to California to join Biosym. Fiona spent nine years at Biosym/MSI (now Accelrys). She carried out contract research for some of the top US and European companies. As manager of the MSI training group she prepared and presented more than 30 workshops worldwide on polymer science and molecular modeling. She also worked in marketing and technical sales support. In 1999 she was hired into a central research group at Colgate Palmolive. This presented challenges including materials structure and property prediction for toothpaste, detergent, hard surface care and personal care products, and packaging and fragrance technology. She also continued to be active in professional education as a lecturer for American Chemical Society (ACS) Short Courses on polymer science and molecular modeling. In her spare time she organized a symposium on Mesoscale Phenomena in Fluid Systems, which was held during the ACS National Meeting in Boston, 2002. She is the coeditor a book based on this symposium (ACS Symposium Series #861). In 2003 Fiona left Colgate Palmolive to move to beautiful Vermont with her husband, Martin Case, and to found Case Scientific offering consultancy and contract research in soft nanotechnolgy, computational chemistry, polymer and surfactant science. She has also embarked on a “second career” in scientific journalism. Fiona is a Chartered Chemist and a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the ACS, the American Oil Chemists Society, and the National Association of Science Writers.

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