Exploration on a Small Scale
Nanotechnology - which uses materials developed on a scale of one-billionth of a metre - holds the promise of stronger materials, faster computers, better energy efficiency and a cleaner environment. To develop the most effective materials designs, it is essential to gain more insight into the interfacial reactions, alloying effects and the chemical bonding changes in structures that are in the nanometre dimension.
Dr. Gianluigi Botton has developed advanced techniques for using electron microscopes that provide very high spatial resolution information, including transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). In his program as Canada Research Chair in Electron Microscopy of Nanostructured Materials, Dr. Botton will use TEM/EELS technology to achieve three goals: improve techniques to detect signals from few atomic layers at interfaces and nanostructures; develop models to describe the analytical data in terms of structure and bonding changes; and describe the relationships between the observations and the properties of the materials.
His research will fall into three separate projects.
First, he will examine the interfaces in nanostructured materials to provide high-resolution spectroscopic data to understand the structure and bonding relationships at interfaces and relate the data to the properties of these interfaces in engineering applications. This project will make it possible to understand the important elements that control the properties so that interfaces can be designed effectively, or new effects can be discovered and exploited.
Second, his examination of the structure and bonding in nanoparticles for energy storage and catalysis will focus on the relationships between the microstructures observed at the nanometre level (shape, size and chemical state of nanoparticles) and the ultimate properties that are measured by macroscopic techniques. Nanoparticles that form airborne pollution will also be studied.
Finally, he will focus on metallic and semiconductor thin films in devices to develop quantitative techniques to analyze the chemical composition at the nanometre level.