One of the research themes of the Dhirani group is to use nanostructures as building blocks to make new materials. A motivation for this “bottom-up” approach for making materials is that an enormous range of nanostructures can be fabricated with control over structure (size, shape, composition) and thus control over nanostructure properties. By choosing our nanostructured building blocks and the manner in which they are assembled, we can therefore “nanoengineer” material behaviour from the bottom up. Of particular interest are quantum nanoengineered materials (q-NEMS) in which overall material behaviour is not just a simple combination of building block behaviours but rather quantum emergent effects play key roles. In this direction, the Dhirani group has discovered hybrid molecule-nanostructure states (HYMNS) that exhibit orders of magnitude enhanced optical and electrical behaviour. Ongoing research is exploring the range of phenomena q-NEMS can generate and insights they provide into exotic quantum effects exhibited by more “traditional” quantum materials.
A related research theme of the Dhirani group is to develop applications arising from the first theme. Applications that we have developed include the most accurate conductivity meters available for testing water. We are presently exploring changes in electrical behaviour of materials modified using extreme conditions found in electrochemical cells and high pressure and temperature cells. One of the potential applications of this research theme is the development of materials for green technologies.