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date: 15 June 2021

(p. v) Preface

(p. v) Preface

Wolfgang Pauli is known to have remarked, “God made solids, but surfaces were the work of the Devil.” This Handbook deals with the Devil’s work. As the size of the material is reduced, surfaces acquire increasing importance, and indeed override the bulk when one of the dimensions of the material shrinks to nanometers. Simultaneously, at the nanoscale, quantum effects come into play and the properties of matter confined to nanodimensions are dramatically changed. Nanoscience and nanotechnology are all about relating and exploiting the above phenomena for materials having one, two or three dimensions reduced to the nanoscale. Their evolution may be traced to three exciting happenings that took place in a short span from the early to mid-1980s with the award of Nobel prizes to each of them. These were the discovery of the quantum Hall effect in a two-dimensional electron gas, the invention of scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and the discovery of fullerene as the new form of carbon. The latter two, within a few years, further led to the remarkable invention of the atomic force microscope (AFM) and, in the early 1990s the extraordinary discovery of carbon nanotubes (CNT), which soon provided the launch pad for the present-day nanotechnology. The STM and AFM have emerged as the most powerful tools to examine, control and manipulate matter at the atomic, molecular and macromolecular scales and these functionalities constitute the mainstay of nanotechnology. Interestingly, this exciting possibility of nanolevel tailoring of materials was envisioned way back in 1959 by Richard Feynman in his lecture, “There’s plenty of room at the bottom.”

During the last 15 years, the field of nanoscience and technology has expanded internationally and its growth has perhaps been more dramatic than in most other fields. It has been transformed into an intense and highly competitive research arena, encompassing practically all disciplines that include theoretical and experimental physics, inorganic, organic and structural chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, medicine, materials science, metallurgy, ceramics, electrical engineering, electronics, computational engineering and information technology. The progress made in all these directions is truly spectacular. In this edited Handbook of Nanoscience and Technology, we have attempted to consolidate some of the major scientific and technological achievements in different aspects of the field. We have naturally had to follow a selective rather than exhaustive approach. We have focused only on those topics that are generally recognized to have had a major impact on the field. Inherent in this selection process is the risk of some topics inadvertently getting overemphasized, while others are unavoidably left out. This is a non-trivial problem especially in the light of the great many developments that have taken (p. vi) place in the field. However, a great diversity of important developments is represented in this Handbook and helps us overcome some of these risks.

The present Handbook comprises 3 volumes, structured thematically, with 25 chapters each. Volume I presents fundamental issues of basic physics, chemistry, biochemistry, tribology, etc. at the nanoscale. Many of the theoretical papers in this volume are intimately linked with current and future nanodevices, molecular-based materials and junctions (including Josephson nanocontacts) and should prove invaluable for further technology development. Self-organization of nanoparticles, chains, and nanostructures at surfaces are further described in detail. Volume II focuses on the progress made with a host of nanomaterials including DNA and protein-based nanostructures. This volume includes noteworthy advances made with the techniques of improved capability used for their characterization. Volume III highlights engineering and related developments, with a focus on frontal application areas like Si-nanotechnologies, spintronics, quantum dots, CNTs, and protein-based devices, various biomolecular, clinical and medical applications. The other prominent application areas covered in this chapter are nanocatalysis, nanolithography, nanomaterials for hydrogen storage, nanofield emitters, and nanostructures for photovoltaic devices. This volume concludes the Handbook with a chapter that analyses various risks that are associated in using nanomaterials.

We realize that the boundaries separating a few of the topics of the above three volumes are somewhat shadowy and diffuse. Some chapters of Volumes II and III could have also provided a natural fit with Volume I. For instance, some of the novel molecular devices of Volume III could have alternatively been included in the realm of basic studies that form a part of Volume I.

The three volumes together comprise 75 chapters written by noted international experts in the field who have published the leading articles on nanoscience and nanotechnology in high-profile research journals. Every chapter aims to bring out frontiers and advances in the topic that it covers. The presentation is technical throughout, and the chapters in the present set of 3 volumes are not directed to the general and popular readership. The set is not intended as a textbook; however, it is likely to be of considerable interest to final-year undergraduates specializing in the field. It should prove indispensable to graduate students, and serious researchers from academic and industrial sectors working in the field of nanoscience and technology from different disciplines like physics, chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, medicine, materials science, metallurgy, ceramics, electrical, electronics, computational engineering, and information technology. The chapters of the three volumes should provide readers an analysis of the state-of-the-art technology development and give them an opportunity to engage with the cutting edge of research in the field.

We would like to thank all the contributors for their splendid and timely cooperation throughout this project. We are grateful to Dr Sonke Adlung for being most cooperative and considerate and for his important suggestions to help us in our efforts, and acknowledge with thanks the efficient assistance provided by Ms April Warman, Ms Phaedra Seraphimidi and Mr Dewi Jackson. Special thanks are due to Mrs Emma Lonie and (p. vii) Ms Melanie Johnstone for commendably coordinating the proof correction work with over 200 contributors. One of us (AVN) thanks the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi for financial assistance in the form of a Senior Scientist fellowship and the UGC-DAE Consortium for Scientific Research, Indore, for providing infrastructural support. He thanks the Consortium Director, Dr Praveen Chaddah, and the Centre Director (Indore), Dr Ajay Gupta, for their sustained interest and co-operation. He further acknowledges with thanks the technical assistance provided by Mr Arjun Sanap, Mr D. Gupta, Dr N.P. Lalla, Mr Suresh Bharadwaj and Mr U.P. Deshpande on many occasions. He is particularly grateful to his wife Dr Aruna Narlikar for her invaluable help, patience, and support throughout, and especially for her useful suggestions on many occasions during the course of the present project. He acknowledges the commendable technical support of his daughter Dr Amrita Narlikar at Cambridge, and also of Dr Batasha who remains a close and valued friend of the family. YYF extends his thanks to the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Contracts No. 60776053 and No. 60671021), and the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (Program 863 and Contract No. 2007AA03Z311) for financial support. He remains indebted to his father, who passed away many years ago, for his invaluable guidance, advice and help to build his life and career, and to his mother, wife and son, for their sustained patience and support.

November 2008

A.V. Narlikar

Y.Y. Fu (p. viii)