Bridging the Macro-Nano Divide: The Science and Technology of Gas Sensing with Nanostructured Materials

Dr. Christine Berven
Department of Physics
University of Idaho.

The amazing growth of our ability to create materials with dimensions on the nanometer scale has brought forth whole new industries, amazing new technologies, and fascinating scientific questions. What makes these materials so special is that for the first time we have materials to study where their dimensions are comparable to the characteristic length-scales of much of the physics that describe the properties of and the interactions with those materials. As such, we often find that to explain or understand how a material behaves, we must include interactions and physics that in the past we would have considered negligible. Sometimes we find that it is the nano-related physics that is the dominant effect. Motivated by the particular example of a gas sensor created from gold-nanoparticle-decorated semiconducting nanowires, I will illustrate some of these potentialities and the challenges associated with using nanomaterials in future technologies.