Interfacial Phenomena and Chemical Selectivity


Vinay K. Gupta Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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The capability to control and manipulate structure and properties of chemical, biological, and physical systems at nanometer dimensions holds immense potential for technological advancement. This promise of nanotechnology has spurred increasing investment into research at the nanometer length scale in virtually every scientific discipline. One of the hallmarks of nanoscience and engineering research is the predominance of interfacial phenomena, which occurs as a natural consequence of the shrinking length scale. Examples of these phenomena include molecular interactions at interfaces within chemical or biological systems, behavior of complex fluids such as polymers confined to an interface or between surfaces, synthesis of tailored nanoparticles, and two-dimensional nanostructures built by assembling nanoscale building blocks. One of the central questions faced in the studies of interfacial phenomena at the nanoscale is the impact of the interplay between molecular structure, forces, and organization. Here we discuss how this interplay can result in an exquisite molecular selectivity at a self-assembled surface, which in turn can form the basis of innovative applications in separations, analysis, and diagnostics.