Research Categories

Nanotechnology & Nano-Science

As one of the priority research areas, NTU has many strong research teams working on the nanoscience and nanotechnology such as NanoCluster and NanoFrontier as well as many other research groups speacialising in specific areas of nanotechnology and nano science.

The research group of nanotechnology emphasizes its research on fuel cell technology, applied catalysis and reaction engineering, functionalized polymeric materials and nanocomposite materials for biosensors and pharmaceutical applications. The state-of-the-art analytical and characterization facilities available provide support for cutting-edge research in areas.

The nanoscale-initiatives in nanobiotechnology group at NTU bring together researches concerned with the development of nanomaterials, including nanomagnetic carriers, for bioengineering and life sciences applications. Other areas of interest include biosensors, biomimetics, biophotonics and bioimaging. These studies are expected to lead to significant improvements in a wide variety of products and processes in the biotechnology space. Specific projects include nanomagnetic particles for cancer treatment and photonic devices for biomedical applications.

The nanoelectronics group addresses the development of new materials, processes and devices for the next generation of electronic devices. Key research and academic programs include synthesis of materials, processes, packaging and reliability. Research in nanoelectronics includes materials used for the 65nm node and beyond, high-k gate dielectric materials, Si/SiGe devices and substrates, and finally sub 500nm materials development for packaging applications. nanoenergy

Thin film deposition and characterization for dielectric films, barrier layers, and interconnect structures is also pursued. Integration and reliability of these materials such as electro-migration, stress migration, dielectric breakdown, thin film transistors, organic photovoltaics and memory devices are actively researched.

The nanoelectronics group addresses the development of new materials, processes and devices for the next generation of electronic devices. Key research and academic programs include synthesis of materials, processes, packaging and reliability. Research in nanoelectronics includes materials used for the 65nm node and beyond, high-k gate dielectric materials, Si/SiGe devices and substrates, and finally sub 500nm materials development for packaging applications. Thin film deposition and characterization for dielectric films, barrier layers, and interconnect structures is also pursued. Integration and reliability of these materials such as electro-migration, stress migration, dielectric breakdown, thin film transistors, organic photovoltaics and memory devices are actively researched.

nanodevice The projects in nano photonics cover the area of optoelectronics devices and packaging, nano metrology, and finally photonic band gap materials. Arrayed waveguide gratings, transceiver assemblies used in optical networking units have been successfully fabricated and characterized. Optics based novel nano characterization techniques for non-contact and whole field characterization of materials have also been developed.

The projects in nano magnetics predominantly aim to synthesize nano materials for improved magnetic performance. Some projects deal with the production of nano particles for a variety of applications while the others investigate the production of nano-structured materials or nanocomposites. They either attempt to optimize the production processes in order to obtain the required nano material or manipulate the material structure and chemistry at nano-scale to achieve the required nano structure. Thus there is a mixture of process development and application development.
New applications of nanomaterials are being developed for the purification of chemical compounds or to modify the surface properties of manufacturing tools.

nanomaterials The nanomaterials group at NTU aims to develop more efficient synthesis methods and novel application of nanomaterials. For synthesis a preferred research direction follows a top-bottom approach, where nanomaterials are precisely defined from a bulk material using beam of ions (FIB) or plasma etching techniques (DRIE) with nanoparticles used as a mask. A bottom-up synthesis approach is also followed, based on the growth of nanocrystals.
New applications of nanomaterials are being developed for the purification of chemical compounds or to modify the surface properties of manufacturing tools.

Nanotechnology & Catalysis Research
The research programs in Nanotechnology & Catalysis Group of SCBE cut across multi-disciplinary boundaries in chemistry, chemical engineering, material sciences and physics. The research activities are mainly focused on i) heterogeneous catalysis and reaction engineering; ii) inorganic membranes, functionalized polymeric materials and nanocomposite materials; and iii) functional nanostructured materials for pharmaceutical, medical and other advanced applications.


In particular, metal incorporated mesoporous silica-based catalysts such as MCM-41, SBA-15, etc. have been synthesized for different catalytic applications including production of carbon nanotube with controlled chirality using CVD method, Fischer-Tropsch reaction and isomerization for clean energy, etc. Fundamental studies are also conducted to investigate the chirality control mechanism of carbon nanotube, and the controlling factors of metal incorporation and structural order of the catalysts.

Hollow nanostructured semiconductor materials synthesis is another research interest in the group. These materials are evaluated as photocatalysts for production of hydrogen from water and degradation of organic pollutants in waste water. Nanoscale electrocatalyst development for proton exchange membrane fuel cells and direct methanol fuel cells is another focus of the group. Immobilization of enzymes on solid support to generate active and reusable biocatalysts for chemical transformation is also carried out. Computational heterogeneous catalysis approach is used within the group to provide information about complex catalytic reaction networks, probing factors whose synergy shapes the activity and selectivity of a heterogeneous catalyst, and the mechanism of the catalytic reaction, based on which researchers are able to rationally design and optimize catalysts.

Furthermore, development of synthesis strategies of zeolite and zeolite/polymer functional membranes for key applications like gas separations, membrane reactors, membrane distillations, fuel cells, and chemical sensors is another focus of the group. The properties of zeolites, including their internal pore structure, crystal size and morphology, and the interactions between zeolite and polymers are studied in details and controlled carefully in order to generate high performance membranes.

The group has also developed spectroscopic techniques, including solid-state NMR and FTIR, to study the structure-processing-property relationships of polymers and polymer/nanoclay composite materials at interfaces and in bulk. The understanding of conformation, orientation, spatial distances, main chain and side group reorientation motion as well as stress at the molecular level is important for design of polymers with desired molecular properties.

Last but not the least, the research activities on design and engineering of multifunctional nanomaterials for targeting, bio-imaging, drug delivery, drug separation and self-cleaning surface are actively going on.

Separation and Analysis – Nanoparticles in Achiral and Chiral Separation
One of the main priorities of analytical laboratory is to develop efficient and rapid procedures for performing qualitative and quantitative analyses of large number of complex, low concentration samples in a short period of time. The strategy to decrease analysis time is to use shorter column and higher flowrate. However, one of the problems associated with shorter column is the reduction of separation efficiency. In order to overcome the lack of chromatographic efficiency afforded by decreasing column length, we propose the use of small particles as the support for stationary phase as particle size is inversely proportional to separation efficiency. With the use of smaller particles, chromatographic efficiency is improved by reducing the diffusion distance of the sample molecules in the stationary phase. Currently, there are no commercially available submicron particles used as stationary phase. In addition, there is limited research done on the use of submicron particles in liquid chromatography.

We have developed highly monodispersed non-porous and porous C18-functionalizaed silica submicron particles (500 nm) and have successfully applied these particles in Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (UPLC). We have compared the separation efficiency of our particles with commercially available columns, and found our particles to have superior separation efficiency. Our submicron particles are envisioned to have great potential as chiral stationary phase (CSP). Currently we are developing sub-micron and nanosize CSPs for a range of applications such as Capillary Electrochromatography (CEC), Capillary Electrophoresis (CE), and Supercritical-Fluid Chromatography (SFC). We are also seeking commercialization potentials.

Nanocomposites for Self-Cleaning and Antibacterial Surface Coatings
The emphasis on Green Architecture has provided great impetus for the applications of self-cleaning surface. Self-cleaning and/or antibacterial surfaces have great commercial potential and also wide area of applications such as the exterior coatings for buildings and structures, hydrophilic and anti-bacterial ceramic tiles of hospital interiors and antibacterial refrigerators etc.

We are developing permanent self-cleaning and antibacterial surface coatings which are applicable to different substrates such as glass, plastics and aluminum. The coating materials will have the ability to harvest visible light to destroy organic compounds and pathogens. Permanent surface characteristics such as permanent superhydrophilicity and bactericidal activities will render the coated surface self-cleaning and antibacterial all the time. In addition, the coating will be engineered to be mechanically sound to withstand abrasion and scratching.

Printed Electronics
Printed electronics is predicted to be a $ 300 billion market within two decades. Printing is a versatile enabling technology for electronic products that can not be made achieved with Si microelectronics technology. The applications of printed electronics are diverse and pervasive, including macroelectronics products (e.g. large active display pixel drivers and solar panels), conformal electronics for implantable medical sensors, wearable or textile electronics, biosensors, single-use electronics, low-cost sensors, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. Printed electronics will also lead to completely new products such as sophisticated diagnostic tools and smart packaging and inventory labels. It is believed that printed electronics will revolutionize our lifestyle within the next two decades just as Si microelectronics has done in past decades.

One of our school’s focuses is on materials and technology which benefit the total printed electronics industry. Our faculties have developed (1) novel one-dimensional nanomaterials, and (2) suitable printing techniques.

In recent years, single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) which carrier mobilities and stabilities much higher than those of polymers, as well as those of Si and ZnO nanowires, have emerged as alternative candidates for printable transistors. SWNTs can be thought of rolled-up cylinders of graphene monolayer with ~ 1 nm diameter and tens of nanometers to several centimeters length. Depending on their chirality, SWNTs can be either metallic (met-) or semiconducting (sem-). Due to their nearly one-dimensional and defect-free electronic structure, electronic transport in SWNTs is ballistic, allowing them to carry high current with essentially no heating. Also, the electron transport in semiconducting SWNTs manifests superior field-effect behavior. Current synthesis approaches inevitably produce SWNTs which are electrically heterogeneous. Our faculties focus on novel synthesis and enrichment technologies to obtain electrically homogeneous products.

We have developed novel catalysts Co-MCM-41to stabilize sub-nanometer scale metal clusters. We have achieved the best ever-reported chirality control results in synthesizing only specific (n,m) types of SWNT (i.e. (7,5) at 35 mol % or (6,5) at 50 mol %) through precise control of sub-nanometer scale metal clusters using our novel catalysts and precise carbon decomposition control. Our as-synthesized SWNTs are enriched with 10-20 (n,m) types. We also developed a mild purification procedure to obtain low-defect density SWNTs nearly free of contaminants. Our nanotubes have measured purity index among the highest in comparison with other published results.

After purification, SWNTs mixture will still be composed of both met- and sem- nanotubes. We have developed various techniques to further enrich specific type of tubes. Using co-surfactant extraction without density-gradient, the chirality diversity can be reduced to ≤ 8 species. We have synthesized various surfactants with sem- or met-SWNT and high solubility for excellent metallicity-based selectivity with minimum disruption of nanotube intrinsic electronic properties. Chitosan and its various neutral pH water-soluble derivatives were also investigated to obtain SWNT solutions which are suitable for printing. We are also developing virus-based nanotechnology with specific applications in separation of SWNTs according to their chirality, and subsequent viral-directed SWNT assembly for applications in nano-circuitry.

Our faculties are also developing printing techniques to achieve printed highly aligned nanomaterial based FETs with high performance and yield. There are several processes we have developed to achieve the desired high device performance including microfluidic alignment technique, magnetic patterning and UV nanoembossing method.

We have shown, for the first time, which with pre-alignment of the nanotubes, flows in microchannels can align the SWNTs in patterns with widths down to sub-micron over mm-scale area.

Printing techniques (e.g. inkjet, offset or gravure printing) commonly applied for low-cost, large-area printed electronics circuits can only typically achieve 20-50 µm resolution. We have demonstrated that a novel ultraviolet (UV) nanoembossing method can print conducting channels with sub-micron (600 nm) lengths so as to achieve high charge mobility and drain current for the network. Further UV nanoembossing can achieve transfer of sintered Au electrodes whilst physical contact printing used by others typically transfers Au nanoparticles which need high-temperature post-print sintering. Our UV nanoembossing is fast and is done at ambient temperature.

Related Links:
Nanotechnology, School of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering
Nano-Electronics and Interconnects, School of Materials Science & Engineering
Rare Earth Nano-Materials, School of Materials Science & Engineering

NameResearch Interests
Dr Alessandra BonanniBiosensor technologies Biosensors are analytical tools which combine a biorecognition agent which provides selectivity and a transducer that confers sensitivity and can convert the biorecognition event into a measurable electronic signal. The advantage of using biosensor over traditional techniques is represented by their low costs, small dimensions, portability, and fast response. The different areas for potential biosensor applications are mainly medical diagnosis, environmental monitoring and food analysis. DNA analysis DNA analysis is of extreme importance to solve problems of different nature such as investigation on genetic diseases, detection of food and water contamination by microorganism, studies on breeding origins or tissue matching, and solution of forensic issues. The techniques for genome identification are nowadays mainly based on DNA sequencing by using fluorescent labels and optical detectors. They require a few days for the analysis to be completed and the costs are prohibitive to the general public. Demand has never been greater for innovative technologies which can provide fast, inexpensive and reliable genome information. The focus of my research is on the development of analytical tools (biosensors) for the rapid, reliable and low cost identification of DNA sequences. In order to achieve that, different electrochemical techniques are used for the detection of the analytical signal. The developed biosensors are based on various platforms (such as gold, carbon and silicon) and different nanomaterials (i.e. gold nanoparticles, graphene nanoplatelets and several quantum dots) are employed for the amplification of the obtained signal and the improvement of detection limit. The final step of this work is the application of the developed genosensor to real sample analysis. Once this second part is successfully accomplished, the analytical tool could be eventually integrated into a DNA amplification process, resulting in a portable device for point-of-care diagnostic tests and for very sensitive detection of SNPs correlated to different diseases. Food Analysis This field includes research in the two following areas: - Application of DNA genosensors to identify of DNA sequences correlated to bacteria involved in food contamination (i.e. Salmonella spp, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli) - Development of electrochemical biosensors for the detection of antioxidant capacity of food and beverages
Assoc Prof Alfred Tok Iing Yoong1) Carbon-based Field-Effect Transistor Sensors The biosensors market, which is currently at USD 9.9 billion, is expected to reach USD 18.9 billion in 2019 (GIA Report, 2014) propelled by the growing population and health issues. Our group capitalizes on this emergent market and researches on disposable and low-cost sensor suitable for real-time sensing in field conditions. Our group focuses on sensors for biological and gas detection applications. 2) Synthesis of Nanostructured Materials using Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) Atomic layer deposition (ALD) has evolved to be a unique tool for nanotechnology with atomic level control of the depositions, 3D conformity and homogeneity. Film depositions can be realized for complex non-planar topographies for a wide range of applications such as energy conversion and storage, nanoparticle catalysts, nanostructures for drug delivery, gas separations, sensing, and photonic applications. Our group focuses on ALD materials for solar cell, hydrogen generation and smart window applications. 3) Hard & Tough Materials for Ballistic Protection Application The next generation of military vehicular and soldier system requires light-weight materials with high strength-to-weight ratio. Our research focuses on the synthesis and densification of nanostructured materials & desired composite architecture to significantly raise the ballistic protection capability. The B-C-N-O group of compounds are potential candidates to form novel materials for ballistic protection application as they inherent the unique properties from both boron nitride and boron carbide which are known for their light weight, high hardness, low friction coefficient and high wear resistance. Prof Tok leads a team of collaborators in armour material research ranging from high temperature synthesis of novel superhard materials and consolidation by state-of-the-art Spark Plasma Sintering to advanced characterisation techniques such as depth of penetration test using Two-Stage Light-Gas Gun. 4) Institute for Sports Research Our group is involved in the Institute for Sports Research, working on the damping property of midsoles which is based on carbon nanotube (CNT). CNT’s high aspect ratios (length/diameter) is particularly desirable for mechanical reinforcement, and it is found that the vertical aligned (VA)CNTs perform well in damping, to dissipate the energy absorbed under compression (Figure 7). Our present job is to tune the damping property of VACNT by adjusting the length, diameter and area density etc. parameters and try to reinforce the polymer with VACNT to fabricate midsole material with better cushion property. 5) NRF-CREATE In accordance with the objectives of the Energy Thrust Program of the NRF-CREATE Project, our group is focused on the design and synthesis of highly functional nanomaterials, which enables energy harvesting and conservation. Recently, novel graphene oxide synthesized nanoballs and nanoflowers were synthesized. These exhibit potentials for supercapacitors and energy applications. In general, these activities results in above 50 publications, 17 patent applications and projects discussions with companies regarding commercialization possibilities.
Assoc Prof Ali Gilles Tchenguise MiserezStructural properties of biological materials from the macro-scale to the nano-scale Multi-scale structural and mechanical properties of biological materials, including biominerals. Elastomeric and structural properties of bioelastomers Protein chemistry of sclerotized hard-tissues from marine organisms, such as Cephalopod Single-molecular force spectroscopy of structural and elastic proteins Underwater adhesion mechanisms of adhesive proteins Biofouling RNA-sequencing and proteomics of extra-cellular biological materials Advanced Metal/Ceramic composites Experimental Fracture Mechanics
Assoc Prof Ang Diing Shenp1. Reliability physics and characterization of nanoscale transistors (negative-bias temperature instability, hot-carrier effects, gate oxide breakdown, low frequency/RF noise, metal gate/high-kappa gate stack, non-volatile memories, silicon-on-insulator transistors, nanowire devices etc.) 2. Nano-characterization techniques (conductive atomic force microscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy and associated anaytical techniques for alternative gate dielectrics, nanowire devices etc.) 3. Characterization of novel devices (e.g. tunneling FETs, novel memories etc.)
Asst Prof Anupam ChattopadhyayComputing Architecture Design Automation Security Emerging Technologies
Asst Prof Aravind Babu DasariDr Dasari’s major research emphasis is on the development of in-depth understanding of the various facets of processing-structure-property relations in hybrid polymer nanocomposites to achieve synergistic properties for different end applications. These facets include: 1. Thermal stability and flame retardancy (with eco-benign agents) 2. Functional properties (electrical/thermal conductivities, biodegradability and UV shielding) 3. Electrospinning techniques 4. Wear/scratch damage at different scales (macro/micro/nano) 5. Deformation and Fracture mechanisms 6. Active food packaging
Assoc Prof Atsushi GotoPolymer Chemistry and Polymer Materials 1) Controlled syntheses of polymers 2) Development of new living radical polymerization via organic catalysis 3) Creation of new advance polymer materials using structurally controlled polymers
Asst Prof Bent Weber• Atomic and electronic structure of two-dimensional and topological materials • Quantum information processing science and technology • Nanoelectronic and quantum device physics • Low-temperature scanning probe microscopy • Atomic manipulations and lithography
Prof Bo Gunnar LiedbergThe research interests of Prof. Bo Liedberg can be divided into three main areas Surface Chemistry and Self Assembled Monolayers This part of the research concerns fundamental studies of adsorbates and ultrathin molecular architectures, like Self-Assembled Monolayers (SAMs), on solid supports. The group was very early in studying self-assembly of substituted alkylthiols on gold substrates. A key activity has been to study temperature driven phenomena occurring in such assemblies as well as in adsorbed layers on top such SAMs. Oligo(ethylene glycol) and oligosaccharide SAMs have attracted considerable attention, both experimentally and theoretically, because of their structural characteristics and advantageous properties in contact with biofluids. Another area concerns interfacial water and ice. Temperature programmed studies have been undertaken to improve the understanding of the nucleation and microscopic wetting behavior of water/ice. The complexity of the SAMs has increased over the years and we are today focusing on architectures based on SAMs bearing multivalent chelator heads, helix-loop-helix polypeptides and receptor functions. Bioinspired and Biomimetic Nanoscience This research concerns the development of nanoscale architectures fabricated using either top-down or bottom-up protocols (or a combination of both). We are, for example, developing plasmonic arrays based on 100 nm gold nano dots on silicon and glass surface for amplification of optical fluorescence signals, so-called metal enhanced fluorescence (MEF). We are also developing composite materials based on a combination of de novo designed peptide scaffolds, planar surfaces and nanoparticles of controlled size and shape. A novel concept based on peptide folding has been used for controlled assembly of gold nanoparticles. The group is also involved in the development of Dip Pen Nanolithography (DPN) for patterning of surfaces on the 30-100 nm length scale. This work is performed jointly with a previous student of the group who nowadays is setting up a nanolaboratory at the Institute of Physics, Vilnius. We are also involved in several EC projects where different types of micro- and nanoscale patterning tools are employed for production of coatings for biofouling, sensing and biomedical applications. Optical Biosensors, micro- and nanoarrays The group has a long experience in developing optical transducers for biosensing application. We were the first to demonstrate the use of surface plasmon resonance for studies of bioaffinity interactions at surfaces, a technology that today form the backbone in SPR/Biacore instruments developed for biospecific interaction analysis (BIA). We are today using it in combination with ellipsometric interrogation and imaging optics for microarraying, and in combination with nanoparticle for studies optical enhancement phenomena. This includes, for example, microarray chips for protein multiplexing. The group is also working on the development of generic biochips for studies of ligand-receptor binding. Besides working on microarray fabrication for protein detection and analysis we are also developing biochips for the safety and security area. Selected publications 1. Tinazli, A., Tang, J., Valiokas, R., Picuric, S., Lata, S., Piehler, J., Liedberg, B., Tampe, R., Chem. Eur. J. 11, 5249-5259 (2005). 2. Aili, D., Enander, K., Tai, F-I., Baltzer, L., Liedberg, B., Angew. Chem., 120, 5636-5638 (2008). 3. Aili, D., Enander, K., Baltzer, L., Liedberg, B., Nano Letters, 8, 2473-2478 (2008). 4. Andersson, O., Ulrich, C., Björefors, F., Liedberg, B., Sensors&Actuators B: Chemical, 134, 545-550 (2008). 5. Klenkar, G., Liedberg, B., Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 391, 1679-1688 (2008). 6. Aili, D., Selegård. R., Baltzer, L., Enander, K., Liedberg, Small, 5, 2445-2452 (2009). 7. Lee, H.-H., Ruzele, Z., Malysheva, L., Onipko, A., Gutes, A., Björefors, F., Valiokas, R., Liedberg, B., Langmuir, 25(24), 13959–71 (2009).
Assoc Prof Boon Chirn ChyePlease See link below for more publications and awards. (1) Awards: PI: Ultra-low Power Fully Integrated CMOS 24GHz Receiver, $0.323mil, March 2008 to February 2011, AcRF Tier 1 MOE. PI: Batteryless Flexible Transceiver for Biomedical Applications, $1,186,270 including scholarships), May 2009 to April 2012, AcRF Tier 2 MOE. Co-PI: An Ultra Low-Power RFIC Chip For Wireless and Communication Applications S$1.2 mil, March 2006 to February 2009, funded by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Co-PI: System-on-chip: Realization of Software Radio, S$0.3 mil, 3 December 2008 to 2 December 2009, University of Electronic Science and Technology (UEST) of China-NTU Joint R&D, jointly funded by UEST and NTU. Co-PI: An Ultra Low-Power RF Transceiver Chip towards a New Paradigm of Life Quality, S$0.25 mil, 3 December 2008 to 2 December 2009, NRF. PI: High Thermal Resolution Ultra-Low Power Integrated Imager: Fund. Issues in CMOS, $840,000, July 2013 to June 2016, AcRF Tier 2 MOE. PI: Project 17: Electronic Circuit Design, Communication, S$836,400, April. 2014 to March 2016, LEES-SMART-IRG. Various JIP programs.