Research in the Salguero group focuses on hybrid materials that incorporate nanosheet components. Nanosheets are characterized as well-defined nanomaterials that are one to several monolayers thick and tens of micrometers in lateral dimensions. Examples of nanosheets include graphene, graphite oxide, metal chalcogenides (MoS2, NbSe2) particularly some transition metal oxides (NbWO6, H2SrTa2O7, Ca2Nb3O10), hexagonal boron nitride, and lamellar perovskites.
Why nanosheets? Most importantly, nanosheets are isolable and can be manipulated (and characterized) using solution-based methods, which allows them to be assembled in a controlled fashion. In addition, nanosheets are highly ordered and can be thought of as two-dimensional crystals. They exhibit excellent strength and stiffness properties, as well as high thermal stability. Their high surface area maximizes the interactions between adjoining nanosheets and lead to interesting electronic and reactivity effects in mixed material systems.
Nanosheets are used as building blocks for various advanced functional materials. The general preparative approaches utilize both top-down and bottom-up strategies that come largely from a solution chemist’s perspective with a strong emphasis on synthetic methods. Once the hybrid materials are created, they are characterized by state-of-the-art microscopy and spectroscopy techniques.
The applications of these new hybrid materials venture into diverse areas. Some targeted applications include:
-- barrier materials, such as gas and moisture barriers for electronics, OLED displays, and organic photovoltaics that are conformal, flexible, and mechanically robust
-- energy storage materials for batteries and capacitors; for example, new materials that can increase Li storage capacity yet maintain structural integrity
-- electrically conductive materials for fuel cells or as a current-dissipating material on aircraft (to provide protection against lightening strikes)
-- homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis where nanosheets play the role of soluble support (or giant ligand, depending on your perspective).