Editorial Feature

Nanoporous, Nanofibre, and Nanowire-Based Materials - Background, Properties and Applications

Over the last decade, there has been a dramatic increase in synthesis, characterisation and application of novel porous materials (such as MCM-41) for catalysis, separation and sensors. These nanoporous materials generally have pore dimensions of 1-50nm. The design, synthesis and modification of nanoporous materials are more challenging than the synthesis of dense materials. New strategies and techniques are constantly being developed for the synthesis and structured tailoring of nanoporous materials; driven both by developments in materials science, such as the discovery of carbon nanotubes and the synthesis of porous inorganic materials using micellar templates, and by industry needs.

Applications of Nanoporous Materials

Nanoporous materials are widely used as adsorbents, catalyst supports, and membrane materials; and prospective applications include, the use of highly ordered nanoporous materials as templates for the production of ‘nanowires’ – electrically conducting wires of a few nanometres in diameter. With increasing environmental concerns worldwide, porous materials have become more important and useful for separation of polluting species, recovery of useful species, sensors and catalysis.

Background and Properties Of Nanofibres

Nanofibres are hollow and solid carbon fibres with lengths on the order of a few microns and widths varying from some tens of nanometres to around 200nm. These materials have occasionally been referred to as nanotubes. However, they do not have the cylindrical chicken wire structure of SWNTs and MWNTs, but instead consist of a mixture of forms of carbon, from layers of graphite stacked at various angles to amorphous carbon.

Applications Of Nanofibre Materials

Nanofibres have applications in a variety of fields, including filtration, protective clothing, biomedical applications such as wound dressing and drug delivery systems, design of solar sails, light sails and mirrors for use in space, application of pesticides to plants, as well as for structural elements in artificial organs and in reinforced composites.

Background and Properties of Nanowires

Semiconductor nanowires are one-dimensional structures, with unique electrical and optical properties, that are used as building blocks in nanoscale devices. Their low dimensionality means that they exhibit quantum confinement effects. For example, narrowing the wire’s diameter increases its band gap, compared to the bulk material.

Applications of Nanowire Materials

Applications are in electronic devices including field-effect transistors, sensors, detectors and light-emitting diodes. More complicated devices are expected soon, requiring new and improved ways of growing such wires.

Primary author: Institute Of Nanotechnology

Source: Introduction to Nanotechnology CD ROM

For more information on this source please visit Institute of Nanotechnology

Uploaded March 2004

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