The Nanoshell source is designed to aid in the production of core-shell nanoclusters. The core-shell structures play crucial role in the engineering of material properties on the nano scale.
The ability to construct a shell of one element or compound around a core of another opens up a range of possibilities not accessible to simpler structures, providing an additional degree of freedom in the design of new functional materials.
Because of their relatively large surface area, many nanoparticle materials can be highly reactive if their local environment is not carefully controlled. Depositing a protective shell around the active nanoparticle can maintain its properties in more typical atmospheres.
Many of the core-shell applications ultimately come down to the management of the electron energy states in the structure. The interaction of elements in the nanocluster can be used to redistribute charge, shift the electron energy structure and tune its physical response to its environment.
There are a wide range of catalytic applications available. The simplest is to deposit a shell of expensive catalytic material (such as platinum) around a core of inexpensive material (such as nickel) and thereby dramatically reduce the cost of the catalytic product. More sophisticated approaches engineer the bandgap of the combined structure to enhance the catalytic properties of other materials.
The ability to manage the bandgap means the optical properties of the nanoparticle can be tuned by controlling the size, shape and composition of the structure. For example, the fluorescence, absorption wavelength or plasmon resonance of a nanoparticle can be tuned to enhance its sensitivity to a particular stimulus.
Magnetic properties such as exchange interactions, moments and coercitivity can be tuned with applications in, for example, magnetic storage and resonance imaging.
The differing physical properties of the core and the shell can be harnessed to fabricate sophisticated devices or machines in the nano-scale. For example, in environmental remediation, a shell material can be used as a catalyst to breakdown or as a getter to trap environmental impurities. A magnetic core would provide a means to separate the nanoparticles from the solution.