This group focuses on the manufacturing of nanoparticles and well organized structures containing many nanoparticles. More generally, the field of nanotechnology focuses on small scale particles and devices. For instance, some of the particles we study such as Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) can have diameters of less than 1 nm, this is roughly 100.000 times smaller than a human hair. At the same time these tubes can reach very long lengths, up to more than half a meter. This is a typical example of a one dimensional (1D) nanoparticle because it extends in one dimension, in contrast 2D materials such as graphene are essentially only one atom thick, but can extend in two lateral directions. Finally, 0D nanoparticles are typically more or less spherically shaped nanoscale material "dots", a well-known example of these are C60 "Bucky balls". In my research, we seek new fabrication methods for organizing these nanoparticles into 3D superstructures consisting of well-organized nanoparticles. For this, we study the interactions between the nanoparticles as well as methods for packing and orgainizing them into well-defined structures. We mainly use carbon nanoparticles as a structural backbone, but hybrid and other particles are being developed as well.
Michael De Volder's Nanomanufacturing group focuses on the development of new processes to enhance the properties of nanoparticle assemblies. This includes CNTs, graphene, and amorphous carbon nanowires but also other nanoparticles, including metal oxides, polymers and hybrid materials. We are interested in processes that allow tuning nanoscale chemistry, microscale morphology, in conjunction with large scale production.