Paulo Ferreira Is Co-Author of New Text on Nanomaterials

“Nanomaterials, Nanotechnologies and Design” has recently been released. The book is written by a world-renowned team, namely Professor Michael Ashby (University of Cambridge, UK), Professor Daniel Schodek (Harvard University, USA) and CEC faculty member Professor Paulo Ferreira (University of Texas at Austin, USA).

The book starts with an interesting scenario: “Imagine dissociating a human body into its most fundamental building blocks. We would collect a considerable portion of gases, namely hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, sizable amounts of carbon and calcium; small fractions of several metals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc; and tiny levels of many other chemical elements. The total cost of these materials would be less than the cost of a good pair of shoes. Are we humans worth so little? Obviously not, mainly because it is the arrangement of these elements and the way they are assembled that allow human beings to eat, talk, thank, and reproduce. In this context, we could ask ourselves: What if we could follow nature and build whatever we want, atom by atom and/or molecule by molecule.”

The authors then discuss the presence of nanomaterials and nanostructures in nature. Some interesting examples are the photosynthesis carried out by every green plant, the shells made by abalones, the strong byssus capable of anchoring mussels to a surface, and the base of geckos feet and spider webs. The authors make the point that nature is undoubtedly the most experienced and most tested laboratory ever available to us and interestingly enough, most of what nature does takes place at the nanoscale. Similarly intriguing, the authors discuss the existence of nanomaterials and nanoscale properties in human-made objects, as old as 324 AD. Although there were no scientific understanding of the nanoscale phenomena, Roman glassware, Medieval and Renaissance ceramics, murals and poetry of the ancient conservation and restoration of works of art and other forms of cultural heritage by nano-based techniques.

"Nanomaterials, Nanotechnologies and Design," the book Paulo Ferreira co-authored.

The book continues with a discussion on the use of nanomaterials and nanotechnologies in design. Because nanomaterials have intrinsically novel properties it is possible to reinvent how some products are designed, from chairs to bicycles to buildings. The following chapters discuss in great detail the general properties of materials and nanomaterials, as well as the techniques available to process these materials and characterize them. An interesting example is the carbon nanotubes, which despite their nanoscale size exhibit tensile strengths 30 times higher than steel and ballistic electrical conductivities.

The discussion then turns into how nanomaterials and nanotechnologies can play a role in various environments, such as structural and mechanical, thermal, electrical and magnetic, light and optical, sound and acoustic, as well as alternative energies. The last chapters of the book concentrate on application of nanomaterials, such as self-cleaning glasses, tiles, paints and textiles, antipollutant concrete, antomicrobial furniture and clothing, self-healing materials and materials that change color and shape.

When asked about the book, Prof. Ferreira said “One of the most interesting aspects of this work was the fact that the authors had such a different background. This allowed us to cover a wide range of topics, learn different perspectives, and converge on a language which would be accessible to a broad audience. This is definitely one of the strengths of the book.”

The book is now available in bookstores and also on-line at Amazon.com.