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Title: Materials by design—Prospects and challenges
Authors: Ahmad, S
Issue Date: Aug-2005
Publisher: CSIR
IPC CodeH01L
Abstract: The present form of material science and technology in practice is an outcome of ‘discovery based approach’, in which various features of the materials are investigated in detail and the acquired knowledge is put to use in looking for their possible applications in different fields. In this endeavor, a variety of processes and products are developed using available scientific knowledge and technological methods based on mostly heuristic approach. With the recent development of nanoparticle size materials and study of their characteristic properties, it is foreseeable that in coming 10 to 20 years, it will be feasible to use a systematic approach of ‘problem based search for solution’ in material science and technology. This implies that it will be quite possible to synthesize a material with tailored properties required for a given situation under consideration. A systematic design methodology is under active development in this context where the physical, chemical and biological behaviour of different types of nanoparticle size material building blocks will be put to use to have the right kind of the synthetic material that will fulfill the needs. Theoretical models, developed in this context, will not only help in deciding the final composition details in terms of different building blocks but would also provide help to work out reliable and reproducible routes to manufacture the designed materials in an economical way. This situation will arise only after having complete understanding of the relationship between nanoparticle size and composition to their physical, chemical and biological behaviours. Next comes the development of reliable models to study the interactions with each other among such building blocks based on ‘cause and effect’ principles like thermodynamics and kinetics. Laboratory scale experimental validations would be established through a variety of model materials to generate library of unit processes related to material synthesis. These models could also be used in developing fast screening procedures to find out the most probable routes of synthesis without going through the time consuming and costly experimental route alone. While taking the advantages of chemical synthesis, already in progress at a fast pace, it will be additionally beneficial to develop self-assembled monolayer (SAM) material growth technology combined with molecular recognition technique to synthesize newer materials and components. Bioinspired material synthesis techniques, based on SAM and molecular recognition, which are very much prevalent in nature, would thus add another dimension to design materials for specific applications. Highly sophisticated measurement and characterization tools would be required to probe extremely small material particles and their collective behaviour while studying the correlation between nanostructure and their characteristic features. This approach of ‘materials by design’ is certainly going to revolutionize the materials technology in a big way. A clear case of paradigm shift is apparent in relation to the way material science and technology problems are solved by the scientists and engineers in near future. Global cooperation and collaborations among the workforces, deployed in different countries in such development projects, besides the development of matching pattern of undergraduate and graduate level educational programs will be critically important for commensurate speed of the overall developments. ‘Materials by design’ is a global problem solving approach and therefore all must put in their best and comprehensive efforts. Sooner we prepare ourselves and enter into the mainstream, better it will be to reap the fruits of such global efforts. The importance of various R&D initiatives to be taken up in this context is highlighted in this paper. Very brief description of our own R&D activities in various National Laboratories and Academic Institutions in the area of nanotechnology is also included here for the benefit of the readers. Efforts have been made in this paper to present a simplified picture of the challenging problems to be sorted out in connection with the preparation for ‘materials by design’ methodology development.
Page(s): 291-316
ISSN: 0975-1017 (Online); 0971-4588 (Print)
Source:IJEMS Vol.12(4) [August 2005]

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