The newest branch of chemistry, Nano and Materials Chemistry, is already prominently featured by the chemistry department. With the recent arrival of new faculty, Brown is in a leading position in the area of synthesis of magnetic nanoparticles. The potential applications of such nanoparticles are enormous, and include magnetic data storage (computers), exchange-spring magnets (tiny motors), photonics, separations, DNA detection, drug delivery, medical imaging and magnetic cancer therapy. To realize these applications, the nanoparticles must be synthesized reproducibly, be monodisperse, and be subject to size, composition and surface control. Chemistry at Brown has unique expertise in creating materials that satisfy those demands. Interdisciplinary efforts to apply these discoveries to the fields of biology, medicine and energy are afoot.
Nanochemistry has multiple contact points with other areas of research in the department. There is, for example, an active component in physical chemistry to explore dynamics of nanoscale objects. In addition, theoretical studies of nanoscale phenomena and nanoscale materials have entered a new and exciting phase. New computational approaches are emerging that make it possible to examine systems of physically significant complexity.
Chemistry research at Brown explores both the formal development and numerical application of such methods to interfacial and cluster phenomena. As an example, metal/hydrogen materials are of special interest, because of their phenomenological richness, experimental accessibility and potential use as energy storage materials in a hydrogen economy.