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Nanostructured Materials

Sandia National Laboratories has combined a world leading sol-gel processing capability with organic self-assembly to produce an enabling technology for a wide range of novel nanostructured materials that are not commercially available. Amphiphilic organic structure-directing agents are mixed with inorganic precursors and processed by dip coating, spin coating, or aerosol spraying to produce films or particles. Solvent evaporation during processing induces self-assembly of ordered organic-inorganic, liquid crystal structures. The organic constituent can also be removed, leading to inorganic films or particles with periodic arrangements of precisely defined pores. Material functionality can be multiplied by coassembling into the pores dyes, sensors, and other molecules that respond to their environment.

Proprietary supercomputer modeling codes are utilized for materials design, and unique instrumentation has been developed to characterize thin-film, self-assembly processes in situ. This new capability is complemented by Sandia's established expertise in ambient-pressure processing of highly porous aerogel powders, monoliths, and films.


Major Resources

Clean facilities for deposition of thin films: Class 1,000 clean room, class 100 clean benches, and class 100 and 1,000 soft-wall clean rooms.

Computer-controlled, dip-coating apparatus in an atmosphere-controlled glove box; semi-automated, spin-coating equipment.

Inert atmosphere glove box and Schlenk lines for synthesis and handling of oxygen and moisture sensitive compounds.

Belt, box, and tube furnace for firing under controlled conditions (i.e., ramp rate, atmosphere, or vacuum).

AET Addax Rapid Thermal Annealer (RTA) for crystallization and densification of thin films under controlled conditions (i.e., atmosphere, heat-treatment time and temperature, and rapid heating and cooling rates).

Critical-point drying apparatus for preparing aerogels using supercritical CO2; high-speed diamond tooling for aerogel machining.

Impedance, dielectric, ferroelectric, and electro-optic property characterization facilities.

Ellipsometry for characterization of thin-film thickness and refractive index; film surface area and porosity measured using nitrogen and CO2 adsorption/desorption on surface-acoustic wave (SAW) devices. SAW technology allows accurate measurement of small masses of gas absorbed on a porous film.

Contacts: Bill Hammetter, (505) 272-7603,

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