Outlook and Future Prospects

Looking to the 21st century, nanosciences will be one of the fields that will contribute to a high level of scientific and technological developments [3]. Nanostructured hybrid organic-(bio)-inorganic materials will play a major role in the development of advanced functional materials. Research in such materials is being mostly supported by the growing interest of chemists, physicists, biologists and materials scientists to fully exploit this opportunity for creating smart materials benefiting from the best of the three realms: inorganic, organic and biological. Furthermore, while hybrid organic-inorganic nanostructured materials conquer more and more of the free spaces left between inorganic chemistry, polymer chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology, the progress in this field depends largely on the core competence of materials chemists to develop advanced materials with nano- and microstructures and with unprecedented performance. The challenge is not only to make any nanostructure of any shape and to know a great deal about its properties, but also to assemble them in any form, to control their structure at different space levels and to know about the properties of such assembled structures. Self-assembly of these nanoparticles by different techniques, either from the bottom-up techniques (assembling particles synthesized in solution) or from the top-down techniques (different lithographic methods), is being pursued. Although many future applications will make use of the properties of the individual nanoparticles (sensors, medical diagnostics, homogeneous catalysis, etc.), there are other important applications that would require self-assembled nanoparticles (nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, photonics, heterogeneous catalysis, etc). Even bio-inspired strategies are used to "mimic" the growth processes occurring in biomineralization and to design innovative multiscale structured hybrids (from nano- to millimetric scale), hierarchically organized in terms of structure and functions. The properties that can be obtained for such materials strongly depend on the synergy between the organic and inorganic nature of the components, but certainly rely on their nano/microstructure and degree of organization. Thus, the key point for the design of new hierarchically organized hybrid materials will not only be the tuning of the nature, but also the dimensions and accessibility of the inner interfaces.

Acknowledgements The financial support of MEC (MAT2006-02394), CM (S-0505/PPQ-0316), and CSIC-PIF (200660F0111) and MAT2008-03224/NAN are gratefully acknowledged.

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