The major research thrust in this group is to harness the power of wet-chemical synthesis methods, to create novel materials that display unique physical properties. In nanoscale particles and composites, one can access a range of physical phenomena, such as quantum confinement or plasmonic effects, whose influences can be modified and balanced through choice of material(s) and careful control over particle size and shape. Colloidal syntheses have been shown to hold the promise for delivering the necessary size/shape control for an ever increasing range of metal, semiconductor and dielectric materials. Importantly, the product nanocrystals are usually dispersible, which renders them amenable to further reaction to create heterostructures of varied complexity, or to low-cost solution processing into composites or simple thin films for application, e.g. in optical devices.
Another key advantage of colloidal synthesis is the flexibility to create unique material combinations that bring together multiple functionalities. One example of this is the creation of magneto-optical nanomaterials, in which magnetically-active species (either individual high-spin ions or nanosized metal domains) are incorporated directly into an optically active semiconductor nanostructure. The results are bifunctional materials that often display interesting interplay between the observable effects, ranging from simple magnetic switching of emission to tunable exchange interactions between semiconductor- and metal-based electronic states.
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