In the last decade nanotalk has invaded science and engineering as well as popular culture–nanomedicine, nanomaterials, nanobuckets, nanoreactors, nanobots. But what is nature like at the nanometer level? Unfortunately simplified schematics (cartoons) have displaced quantitative morphological characterization so we actually don’t know. Given our natural impose order on nature cartoons often fail to capture nature’s complexity. This presentation will examine several case studies where conceptual simplification has led not only to misunderstanding, but also to bad investments. Small angle scattering and reflectivity are used to examine the morphology of nanocomposites and nanostructured interfaces. In the cases of nanocomposites, the intrinsic flexibility of carbon nanotubes drastically reduces the reinforcing effect. Interfaces, on the other hand are seldom simple multilayered structures, which impacts the development of many technologies from coatings to biomaterials.
Dale W. Schaefer is Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He received his PhD in Physical Chemistry at MIT and did post doctoral studies in the Department of Physics at MIT. Dr. Schaefer previously served as a technical manager at Sandia National Laboratories, a Senior Technical Advisor at the Department of Energy and as Dean of Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Chemists. In 2004 he was the John Wheatley Scholar at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was a visiting scientist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2005, 2007). He is a specialist on structure-property relationships in soft materials, which he studies by scattering methods. His most recent projects include chem-bio resistant membranes, silane protective films, alcohol perception, responsive interfaces and colloids for consumer products. He is the author of 150 refereed journal publications with an h-impact factor of 53.