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University of Manchester

School of Materials


The Nanomaterials Group

Image: TEM of the carbon nanotubes dispersed using Fmoc Trp

Welcome to Dr Ian Kinloch's Nanomaterials Group Website. I am a Senior Lecturer at the School of Materials, University of Manchester and my group's research is on the production, processing and applications of nanomaterials, with a strong focus on carbon materials (e.g. nanotube, fibres and graphene). The group studies nanomaterials from thier production through to their applications due to the belief that the full potential of these materials will only ever be achieved if all three of these steps are optimised. My research on applications has concentrated on composites, electrodes (including Raman spectro-electrochemistry and biofuel cells) and the bio-nano interface. This research cuts across the School's Biomaterials, Nanostructured Materials and Raman Groups in which my group sits. My research has been funded by the EPSRC, BBSRC, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society and industry.

I produce carbon nanomaterials by both catalytic vapour deposition (CVD) and the pyrolysis of biomass. The advantages of the CVD route is its potential control and scalability. In this route a hydrocarbon feedstock is cracked over a metal catalyst or substrate. For the production of carbon nanotubes, the diameter of the catalyst is similar to that of the nanotube grown. Therefore, a major part of the research is on making and controlling these catalysts at the high growth temperatures used (>500 C). Some of my previous work in this area is currently licensed by Thomas Swan and Co Ltd, one of Europe's leading nanotube manufacturers. We are also looking at inorganic nanotube production through peptide controlled crysallisation. Recently we have started exploring the use of electro-hydrodynamic lithography to develop nanopatterned surfaces.

My research on the processing of nanomaterials includes their functionalisation and self assembly into useful architectures. Whilst previously I have looked at using covalent functionalisation of nanomaterials, I am increasingly becoming interested in their interaction with biomolecules. I am also interested in the rheology of nanomaterials dispersions.

I have a strong interest in the bio-nano interface and transferring the tools of biology to control the self-assembly of nanomaterials. Therefore, I have developed peptide-based surfactants for carbon nanotubes and the ability to control these dispersions enzymatically. I am also studying the role of carbon nanotube electrodes in future biosensors and fuel cells. The ability to make well defined surfaces which can mimic the features found in the body has led to several projects where I am developing cell scaffolds. My work on nanomaterial-cell interactions also includes collaborations on identifying the possible mechanisms for the toxicity of nanomaterials.

Nanocomposites are one of the best methods to realise a significant fraction of the properties of an individual nanotube in a bulk material. I am studying the use of nanotubes as both polymer matrix modifiers (at low nanotube loadings) and structural components (high nanotube loadings).