BIOMIMETIC ASSEMBLIES OF COMPLEX FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS IN HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURES

ACCELERATOR FUND 

Project period: October 2014 – April 2015 

This community previously received Initiator Funding for the project: Bio and Biomimetic Materials

GW4 community leads

University of Bath: Enrico Da Como (PI) 
University of Bristol: Simon Hall 
Cardiff University: Wolfgang Langbein 
University of Exeter: David Wright 

Project overview

The research programme is based on the preparation of hierarchical layered materials deposited with a new state-of-the-art facility; Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). 

Background 

Nature exploits the complex structure of bio-materials to address important functions for life. Well known examples are the hierarchical organization of light absorbing molecules in the light harvesting of plants or the unique nanostructured features of butterfly wings, which generate structural colour.  

In this community we aim to take these concepts borrowed from nature and generate a vast array of artificial functional materials with applications in superconductivity, memories and data storage, photovoltaics and quantum photonics. The community is highly interdisciplinary, by considering researchers working in engineering, synthetic chemistry, solid state physics and semiconductor quantum optics and benefits from already existing links such as the EPSRC Centre for Graphene Science (Exeter-Bath) and the CDT in Condensed Matter Physics (Bath and Bristol).  

The research programme is based on the preparation of hierarchical layered materials deposited with a new state-of-the-art facility; Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). The ALD system, a core facility of the Centre for Graphene, allows for the preparation of layered materials with vertical control at the atomic level, offering artificial structures made out of atomically thick sheets one on top of the other. We will explore the creation of unique membrane-like materials, and also establish their functionalities in photovoltaics, quantum photonics, superconductivity and memories. 

Project summary 

The community developed as a subgroup of the “Bio and Biomimetic Materials” Initiator community. They consolidated their collaboration with two network wide meetings and a series of smaller meetings which established specific research targets. The project naturally developed into two important research strands focussing on complementary topics (1) pursuing new manufacturing techniques for the preparation of new materials for different applications going from energy to pharmaceuticals and (2) materials for optoelectronics, photonics and quantum information. Funds were used to support lab work to achieve preliminary results in these areas, which could feed into future project applications. 

The community published papers from multiple collaborations and were successful with a number of grant applications (from EU Horizon 2020 and The Royal Society).