Mann, Stephen School of Chemistry, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom.
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The study of the synthesis and characterization of materials in the nanoscale size range (1 to 10 nanometers). These materials include large organic molecules, inorganic cluster compounds, and metallic or semiconductor particles. The synthesis of inorganic materials of nanometer dimension is important because the small size of these particles endows them with unusual structural and optical properties that may find application in catalysis and electrooptical devices. Moreover, such materials may be valuable as precursor phases to strong ceramics. Approaches to the synthesis of these materials have focused on constraining the reaction environment through the use of surface-bound organic additives, porous glasses, zeolites, clays, or polymers. The use of synthetic approaches that are inspired by the biological processes result in the deposition of inorganic materials such as bones, shells, and teeth (biomineralization). This biomimetic approach involves the use of assemblies of biological molecules that provide nanoscale reaction environments in which inorganic materials can be prepared in an organized and controlled manner. Examples of biological assemblies include phospholipid vesicles and the polypeptide micelle of the iron storage protein, ferritin. See also: Micelle
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