Nanotechnologies & New Materials
Nanotech increasingly touches our lives, across IT, medicine, transport and energy. Tailoring the structures of materials at tiny scales makes them stronger, lighter and more reactive. Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, is billed as tomorrow’s wonder material – dominating everything from flexible, wearable transparent electronics to high performance computing.
Explore other themes of FET research
Stories in Nanotech & Materials
Trapping light using Tetris-like clusters of crystals
Researchers are developing a technique for the production of new advanced functional materials
Metamaterials lead the way to treatments by travelling through ‘innerspace’
FET People: Matteo Mascagni
“Microscopic Lego” for scientists to develop materials of tomorrow
Atom-scale building blocks that have been compared to microscopic Lego are allowing researchers to play with the properties of common materials, and the possibilities are so great that it could keep scientists busy for the next 50 years
Research projects in this field
The Graphene Flagship Project is one of the EU main research lines. It aims at unveiling and exploiting the properties of graphene, a material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms. Currently, graphene is the lightest and thinnest material known to humankind. For its unique characteristics and the potential to disclose new, exciting horizons in the field of materials science, graphene was labelled “the wonder material”.
The goal of the ARTIMATTER project is to create new materials by exploiting the properties of graphene. The idea is to stack graphene on top of comparably thin layers of different atoms. Such combinations of grapheme with other atom-scale layers of matter will modify the properties of the latters, giving birth to new types of materials. This investigation line is expected to significantly innovate materials science.
The NANODRIVE project investigates polymeric self-assembling units as building blocks, which allow for an easy and large-scale fabrication of complex materials without the need for cumbersome synthesis techniques.
The goal of the nuClock project is to achieve the most accurate time measurement ever. To this goal, scientists try to develop a new kind of atomic clock. Whereas other atomic clocks are based on the motion of electrons in atoms, the one targeted by nuClock will make use of the nucleus of Thorium-229. Applications of such a precise clock could be the fields of navigation satellites, network synchronisation and astronomical research.
The LiNaBioFluid project aims at creating biomimetic surfaces with particular wetting properties. The study is inspired by the integuments or behinds of certain animals such as bark bugs and lizards. The objective of LiNaBioFluid is to modify the surfaces' properties using lasers. The results are expected to provide new insights and applications in the fields of friction reduction and lubrificants.
The AMADEUS project targets the development of new devices in the field of thermal energy storage. Such devices should be able to operate at temperatures of up to 2000 °C, well beyond current limits of around 1000 °C. To this aim, the project will perform the proof of concept of a new kind of hybrid photovoltaic devices which have been formulated theoretically. AMADEUS aims at kick-starting an emerging research community around this new technology.
The Landauer project aims at developing innovative basic physical switches for digital devices. The switches should be capable of operating below the limit identified by the Landauer’s principle. This principle states that there are inferior limits to the energy consumption taking place during computations. Beating the limit may pave the way towards the development of computers with very low energy consumption.
The project FLIPT aims to develop low-energy, high-quality, wet processing techniques for consumer products using natural materials. They are doing a series of diagnostics in order to understand their silks’ overall characteristics and the spinning process required to produce them. In the future, they will develop the platform technology to generate novel nature-based low embodied-energy materials, which can serve as a sustainable alternative to current petroleum-based polymers in terms of performance and of economics.
The project Microflusa aims to develop a set of revolutionary colloidal materials at an industrial scale using a one-of-a-kind microfluidic system. Via its microchannels, clusters of droplets turn into well-defined configurations via the systems’ new hydrodynamic mechanism. They are doing experiments in order to understand the key ingredients needed to build optimal building blocks. Moreover, they are also doing simulations and other physical experiments to understand the behaviour of these colloidal clusters.