Nanotechnology and Physics of Materials are two of the most progressive branches of the Materials Science and Technology field. Among them, the nanotechnology is considered as a key technology for the future to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications.
Sri Lanka is well known for processing a variety of economically useful minerals, which are mainly being exported as cheap raw materials but playing the main role in global materials based industry. Proper value addition to our economically useful local materials has almost been lacking, due to the dearth of advanced scientific research conducting in the country. However, the recently endorsed National Nanotechnology Initiative facilitates scientists to investigate into applications in nanotechnology with a view to adding value in practically every aspect of our exports hence achieving technological progress and competitiveness.
The Nanotechnology and Physics of Materials Project of NIFS commenced its work in January 2013. At present, the following two sub-projects, which emphasize on the basic and fundamental scientific aspects of advanced synthetic materials and advanced materials derived from Sri Lankan minerals, are carried out under this project.
Study of mechanism and effect of dopants in advanced transition metal semiconductors
Preliminarily, the effect of the precursor on crystal growth in nanoparticle formation is investigated in order to understand the mechanisms to control the size of the particles from sub-micron to nano scales. The gain knowledge is extended to prepare advanced transition metal semiconducting materials with appropriate particle size. Further, fundamental scientific investigations are carried out to study the mechanism and the effect of dopants on electrical and electrochemical property enhancement of these advanced transition metal semiconducting materials. The long-term objectives of this sub-project are twofold as follows. Development of efficient mechanisms and techniques for synthesizing nanoparticles. Introduction of performance enhanced advanced transition metal semiconducting materials for electrochemical energy conversion applications such as Li-ion, Na-ion, and Mg-ion rechargeable batteries.
Investigation of ion intercalation in advanced materials derived from Sri Lankan minerals
Primarily, investigations on deriving advanced materials out of abundant Sri Lankan minerals are carried out under this subproject. These advanced materials derived from the local minerals will then be subjected to fundamental investigations on structural modification in atomic/nanoscale. Furthermore, advanced scientific investigations on ion intercalation/de-intercalation mechanisms and electrochemical behavior of these intercalated materials will be carried out.The long-term objective of this sub-project is the conversion of Sri Lankan natural minerals into highly upgraded advanced materials such as high purity graphite, surface modified graphite, extended graphite, graphene and nano-carbon composites…etc, which are pricey materials for a number of advanced nanotechnological and high-tech industrial applications. Moreover, application-oriented performance enhancement of these developed materials is carried out especially aiming for energy conversion applications such as in rechargeable batteries.
Dr. H.W.M.A.C. Wijayasinghe
Mr. G.D.K. Heshan
Mr. W. G. Jayasekara