Archive for June 26th, 2011

Our invited review in the Journal of Materials Chemistry is now published. The review critically examines the current state-of-the-art for controlling the surface properties of nanoparticles and for grafting recognition functions to them that can drive self-assembly processes. The review focusses on gold nanoparticles, because self-assembly of ligands on gold surfaces of various types is a very important paradigm. The review first examines template-driven self-assembly using both synthetic and natural templates. The important question of whether ligands in a self-assembled monolayer are mobile or form stably separated phases is then addressed. This provides the background for approaches that aim to control the stoichiometry and position of ligands on the nanoparticle. The challenge of determining the structure of self-assembled monolayers on a 3-dimensional nano-object are highlighted; this challenge will have to be met, if we are to be able to drive bottom up in a rational manner the self-assembly of individual nanoparticles into higher order structures.
The themed issue as a whole is a great collection of articles – fantastic reading material for the beach in the course of my holiday in July!

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Cat herding a success

I had likened the organisation of visits to seven Research Institutes in A*STAR on Wednesday to cat herding – an impossible job given academics’ preference for freedom! On Saturday morning at 10 am all 25 of us assembled in the lobby of the Holiday Inn for a first debrief on the visits to A*STAR, NUS and NTU. Overall a success, we had all had got real traction on future collaborations at several, if not all, of these institutions.
This was an experiment for the university. In the past we have sent a small high level delegation and the success of the venture then depended on people with existing contacts at the partner institution. Here we sent a lot of people out, including a substantial number of early career staff.
The conclusion was that the experiment worked well. One lesson is that we really have to have inside contacts to build such visits, so that individuals can drill down in 1 to 1 meetings to the details of projects and get to know each other sufficiently to develop these projects in the future. So our contacts within A*STAR, NUS and NTU were vital to the success of the enterprise. A personal lesson is that if you are the University person helping a contact organise a visit, you need to arrive a week early and expect a very substantial workload in the course of that week!
I am really looking forward to future visits to Singapore and having a cohort of research students going in both directions.

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