The main objective of this programme is to enhance the career perspectives of early stage researchers (ESRs) by providing the unique opportunity to be exposed to research and training in both an academic as well as an entrepreneurial industrial environment. This will be facilitated through the partnership between the SCRiPTS research group of Ghent University (UGent) and the industrial partner Deutsche Nanoschicht GmbH (D-Nano), bringing together two widely respected research partners, active in the field of inorganic nanomaterials synthesis and coating development for thin film applications.
The involved partner organisations entered the project for specific added value in terms of industrial scaled synthesis of nanocomposite precursors and high throughput designs (hte GmbH (HTE)); new formulations and flow chemistry (BASF SE (BASF)) and physical characterisation of superconducting properties (Turku University (TURKU)). This partnership will offer excellent multidisciplinary doctoral training opportunities for the ESRs in the scalable development of nanocomposite architectures with tuneable properties and will foster a long-term collaboration.
This project specifically chooses Chemical Solution Deposition (CSD) as the cost-effective and scalable fabrication method for future nancomposite coatings. Superconducting nanocomposite multiple coating architectures will be the model system of study. Chemical deposition methods and the incorporation of preformed and inert multimetaloxide nanocrystals as pinning centres into the superconducting nanocomposite thin film are the innovative aspects compared to ongoing research. Knowledge in these fields will lead to a novel technology platform in BASFs (and its subsidiaries D-Nano and HTE) supporting new business areas and will train ESRs in multiple aspects of solid state chemistry, making them ready for involvement in breakthrough research which will extend well beyond High Temperature Superconductors (HTS) research, into areas such as organic field effect transistors, chemical mechanical planarization and deposition of conductive electrode materials which see application in products such as polishing slurries for the wafer industry, flexible and large area visual displays and architectural glazing. By creating know-how in the emerging field of nanoparticle dispersions and submicron wet film deposition, BASF acts as an enabler for a variety of technology platforms, such as organic electronics, surface treatment and integrated circuitries. Due to synergies between the synthesis of perovskite nanocrystals and BASFs strong process engineering, the project will change the way we look at hybrid nano-materials, their processing, and life-cycle. The candidates will not only take part in creating these new materials on the lab scale, but also be able to contribute to finding a new way of tuning the properties of nano-sized ceramic particles in a scalable flow process. Controlling the size, surface chemistry and agglomeration as well as the chemical composition of these systems will create benefits for the development of the three large types of nanomaterials, i.e. dielectrics, semiconductors and conductors. It will also make their processing safer and more sustainable.
A successful realisation of the objectives will need training of ESRs on different technical aspects ranging from chemical precursor design, stabilisation of nanocrystals in precursor solutions, continuous chemical deposition of nanocomposite coatings and physical characterisation of properties in alternating magnetic fields. Additionally, they will acquire the business acumen necessary to either spin-out their own business, or take initiative as employees in a truly globalized and dynamic working environment of a major player in the industry. The experiences gained will give the ESRs a head-start into their work life and set them on track for rapid career progress, albeit in a university, a large corporation, a start-up, or in founding their own company, anywhere in the world.