Nanostructured materials offer particular promise for new and potentially very useful products since they can have very different and often superior properties that crucially depend on the atomistic details of interior or exterior interfaces.
The nanostructures may be used in a wide range of contexts; most of these are ones in which ensembles of nanostructures are assembled into complex, functional arrangements. As nanostructured materials are structures far away from thermodynamic equilibrium and since defects of the crystal lattice such as the interfaces provide fast pathways for the transport of matter, diffusion becomes significant even at relatively low temperatures, which affects e.g. the stability of the microstructure or the deformation behaviour or ion-conduction characteristics. However, in materials with small sizes of the respective building blocks (par-ticles, domains or grains), additional effects need to be taken into account that are based on either size confinement effects or on the excess contribution of the internal or external inter-faces, or both. Many of the interdependencies between the microstructure, the particle- or grain-size and the property modifications are not yet sufficiently described to allow a predic-tive understanding, which is necessary for future design of functional nanomaterials with tai-lor-made properties. Some of the current projects in our group can be summarized as: