Millicent A. Firestone, Argonne National Lab
Self-Assembled Nanostructures
Physics Division Colloquium - 22 Mar. 2002

We are exploring the potential of soft-condensed matter phases (e.g., complex fluids and dendritic polymers) as nanoscale "building blocks", templates, and scaffolds for the fabrication of new materials. Among the specific areas of materials research being explored is the development of facile methods for the preparation of organized arrays of inorganic nanoparticles. In this application, complex fluids are shown to function not merely as passive scaffolding for nanoparticles, but also as an active matrix capable of modulating their packing and thus, their physico-chemical properties. In a second area of investigation, the potential of dendritic polymers as "nano-reactors" in which to synthesize and organize inorganic nanoparticles is being explored. Finally, soft-condensed matter phases are being used to create novel, biomolecule-based materials. These materials are expected to offer a means by which to adapt natural molecular machinery (proteins, enzymes, bacteria, etc) to "non-traditional" uses in areas such as nanophotonics, energy storage and transduction, and nanomechanical device fabrication.

ANL Physics Division Colloquium Schedule