History of Nanomaterials:
The history of nanomaterials began immediately after the big bang when Nanostructures were formed in the early meteorites. Nature later evolved many other Nanostructures like seashells, skeletons etc. Nanoscaled smoke particles were formed during the use of fire by early humans.
The scientific story of nanomaterials however began much later. One of the first scientific report is the colloidal gold particles synthesised by Michael Faraday as early as 1857. Nanostructured catalysts have also been investigated for over 70 years. By the early 1940’s, precipitated and fumed silica nanoparticles were being manufactured and sold in USA and Germany as substitutes for ultrafine carbon black for rubber reinforcements. Nanosized amorphous silica particles have found large-scale applications in many every-day consumer products, ranging from non-diary coffee creamer to automobile tires, optical fibers and catalyst supports. In the 1960s and 1970s metallic nanopowders for magnetic recording tapes were developed. In 1976, for the first time, nanocrystals produced by the now popular inert- gas evaporation technique was published by Granqvist and Buhrman. Recently it has been found that the Maya blue paint is a nanostructured hybrid material. The origin of its color and its resistance to acids and biocorrosion are still not understood but studies of authentic samples from Jaina Island show that the material is made of needle-shaped palygorskite (a clay) crystals that form a superlattice with a period of 1.4 nm, with intercalcates of amorphous silicate substrate containing inclusions of metal (Mg) nanoparticles. The beautiful tone of the blue color is obtained only when both these nanoparticles and the superlattice are present, as has been shown by the fabrication of synthetic samples. Probably most celebrated historical comment on the advancement of nanomaterials was the public speculation by physicist Richard Feynman in 1959 at a meeting of the American Physical Society about the effects of manipulating minuscule bits of condensed matter in his famous talk “There’s plenty of room at the bottom”, that we have discussed in the preceding chapter. Today nanophase engineering expands in a rapidly growing number of structural and functional materials, both inorganic and organic, allowing tomanipulate mechanical, catalytic, electric, magnetic, optical and electronic functions. The production of nanophase or cluster-assembled materials, is usually based upon the creation of separated small clusters which then are fused into a bulk-like material or on their embedding into compact liquid or solid matrix materials. E.g. nanophase silicon, which differs from normal silicon in physical and electronic properties, could be applied to macroscopic semiconductor processes to create new devices. For instance, when ordinary glass is doped with quantized semiconductor ''colloids,'' it becomes a high performance optical medium with potential applications in optical computing.
Nanoscale materials can be defined as those whose characteristic length scale lies within the nanometric range, i.e in the range between one and several hundreds of nanometers( preferably between 0-100nm).
According to Siegel, Nanostructured materials are classified as Zero dimensional, one dimensional, two dimensional, three dimensional nanostructures.
Figure: classification of nanomaterials following Siegel