Nanomaterials: New Trends


Richard Silberglitt RAND Corporation

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This paper reviews recent trends in the development and characterization of nanomaterials, which we define as materials with a nanoscale component or structure that exerts a significant influence on properties or function. The trends that we discuss are part of a larger trend in technological development toward integration of disciplines such as physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering, and biology, as well as toward the development of multifunctional materials compatible with increasingly complex environments. We identify three principal trends that provide the organizational framework for the paper:

  1. Integration of organic and biological materials with nanoscale inorganic and polymeric materials (bionanomaterials).

  2. Incorporation of nanoscale components into materials to improve functionality (nanocomposites).

  3. Use of “top-down” (e.g., lithography) and “bottom-up” (e.g., self-assembly) processing approaches, sometimes in combination, to produce novel nanoscale structures (functionalnanostructures).

Each of these trends is discussed in a separate section, with references to the recent (e.g., since 2000) literature. Considering the continuing rapid evolution of this research area, the references are intended to be illustrative rather than comprehensive. The discussed trends are aimed at developing materials to be used in new devices, components, and products, so while a detailed discussion of these items is outside the scope of this paper, we do examine the possible implications of trends in nanomaterials for applications with potential societal effects. Specifically, we examine possible high-growth and low-growth developments and drivers and barriers to achieving each, as well as the possible synergistic influences that these developments might exhibit. In this discussion, we follow the approach described in Ref. .