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Chemistry Conference Explores Nanoscience Frontier

Wednesday 28 February 2007

Chemistry Conference Explores Nanoscience Frontiers

A major University of Otago conference is exploring New Zealand’s contributions to nanoscience-related research - an emerging field which promises to revolutionise many areas of technology.

More than 75 national and international delegates will be at Saturday’s gathering, which is titled Supramolecular Chemistry and Nanoscience - Towards Functional Nanostructures.

French Nobel Laureate Professor Jean-Marie Lehn is guest of honour at the conference. Professor Lehn won the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering work in supramolecular chemistry. He will also give a public lecture on Sunday evening.

Conference Convener Professor Sally Brooker says delegates are travelling from as far as Ireland, Scotland and the United States to attend the event, which is being held at the University’s St David Street lecture theatre complex.

“Nanoscience involves manipulating matter, or creating devices, at a scale of much less than one-thousandth of a millimetre. Supramolecular chemistry aims to develop highly complex chemical systems, usually from relatively simple components, with special capabilities such as self-organisation,” says Professor Brooker.

“Supramolecular chemistry is an exciting and rapidly-evolving field that underpins much of current nanoscience research. It is often referred to as a “bottom-up” approach, rather than the current “top-down” approach to nanotechnology,” she says.

“Essentially this means starting off with molecules which can self-assemble into larger materials and devices, rather than with bigger materials and attempting to make smaller objects on or from them.”

The delegates will discuss their latest findings applying to areas as diverse as biomedicine, anti-biofouling coatings, food, computing and energy generation. Topics include approaches for developing hi-tech sensors, molecular switches and wires, tiny holes, quantum computing and new generation LED screen technologies.

Professor Brooker says the aim of the event is to expose delegates to a broad range of interesting areas and approaches to functional nanoscience.

“Both established and emerging New Zealand researchers are undertaking world-leading work in supramolecular and nanoscience-related areas. This gathering will be an exciting opportunity to showcase findings, share ideas and discuss future research directions.”

Session lectures will be given by seven established and seven emerging New Zealand researchers, while a poster session will form a key focus of the meeting, showcasing work by most of the delegates.

Professor Lehn and Professor Paul Callahan will deliver the opening and closing plenary lectures respectively. Professor Callahan is Director of New Zealand’s MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

Findings by researchers at the University of Otago’s departments of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics will be presented at the conference.

Professor Lehn will deliver his public lecture, From Matter to Life: Chemistry? Chemistry! at the St David Main Lecture Theatre on Sunday at 6.30pm.

The conference schedule can be downloaded at


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