Functional Nanomaterials

Carbon Nanotube for the Optical Sensing of DNA and DNA Sequence Variations
The ability to detect and study a single molecule represents the ultimate challenge for biosensors. Recent progress in the fabrication of nanostructured materials and devices, such as nanoparticles, silicon nanowires, metal nanowires and carbon nanotubes have opened new avenues for achieving the goal of single molecule detection. Because the carbon nanotubes such as single walled carbon nanotubes are only one molecular layer thick, every atom is at the surface. A consequence of every atom being on the surface is the adsorption of any molecule onto the surface of a nanotube will change the optical properties of carbon nanotubes which means nanotube optcal sensors are capable of extremely high sensitivity. The method we propose will explore the unique optical properties of carbon nanotubes for the immobiliSation of specific biomolecules (Yang, W. R.; Thordarson, P.; Gooding, J. J.; Ringer, S. P.; Braet, F., Carbon nanotubes for biological and biomedical applications. Nanotechnology 2007, 18, 412001). The alteration of the optical properties by biomolecular binding will allow the detection of these subtle processes. The aims of this research proposal are: i) to develop techniques for the non-covalent functionalisation of the sidewalls of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) based on DNA hybridisation and ii) to explore novel nanoscale biosensor based on the unique optical properties we will use near-field optical scanning microscopy (NSOM) to characterise these carbon-nanotube-DNA hybrids.

Microscopic Origin of Ferromagnetism of Diluted Magnetic Semiconductors
High-quality diluted magnetic semiconductors (DMSs) are required to realize spintronics – the next generation electronics. DMSs above room temperature have been widely reported, but there are strong variations in the reported spintronic behaviours. In particular, the origin of ferromagnetism is not clear. Therefore, there is a major opportunity for the application of new, element- and position-specific analysis techniques for revealing the microscopic origin of ferromagnetism in DMSs. In this project, we will employ atom probe and other microscopic techniques to study the nanostructural effects in DMSs. The aims are to understand the microscopic origin of ferromagnetism in DMSs, and to direct the fabrication of high quality DMSs.
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