Natural and synthetic macromolecules are among the most versatile building blocks in nanotechnology. Polymer nanoparticles and nanocomposites have played a central role in several recent scientific breakthroughs and are major components in a number of newly emerging technologies.
Hitherto, such applications have mainly employed polymer nanoparticles with uniform or simple core/shell structures. To meet the challenges of nanotechnology, there is compelling need to go beyond these simple structures. NanoS3 will develop hierarchical polymer nanoparticles, with tailored composition and functionalities, designed complexity and controlled responsiveness. These novel hierarchical structures comprise individual domains/shells with different properties to furnish different functionalities.
There is a second aspect of the hierarchical polymer nanoparticles. Current understanding of polymer nanoparticles is mostly related to their equilibrium structures, whereas the kinetic aspects of the particle formation and the internal dynamics of the formed structures have been far less investigated. These timedependent aspects are often more important in applications than equilibrium properties. NanoS3 will
systematically study such structural dynamics under a number of conditions: 1) when polymer nanoparticles or their constituent polymer structures are bound to surfaces, surface interactions and the polymer hydration state become major factors in determining the structural and dynamical characteristics of the bound surface layer; 2) when such polymer layers are under severe confinement between two macroscopic surfaces, the
structural dynamics (and related properties e.g. friction) are strongly influenced by surface; 3) when additional levels of hierarchy are introduced into polymer structures through the formation of complexes with additional components, such as surfactants and nanoparticles.
NanoS3 will contribute to structuring of high-quality research training and to strengthen Europe’s human resources in soft matter nanoscience for enhancing industry competitiveness. ESRs will have access to stateof- the-art equipments and they will gain research experience under the supervision of internationally recognized experts. They will be exposed to a series of tutorial courses on specialized topics; they will take part in network workshops, secondments and visits. To develop the skills needed to start a successful career either in academia or in R&D NanoS3 will also provide training in a wide range of complementary skills.