The size reduction of a given material into the nanometer range usually results in a significant modification of its physical properties. On the one hand, this change is intimitaly related to the confinement itself which may easily cause the reduction of (at least) one dimension to below a characteristic interaction length or even unveil the quantum mechanical nature of its atomic building blocks.
On the other hand, the surface-to-volume ratio is largely enhanced at small length scales and consequently, surface related phenomena increasingly contribute to the physics of nanoscopic materials entities. Consequently, phases and crystal structures which are well known from bulk phase diagrams may become metastable or unstable at the nanometer scale. Hence, in order to control the novel properties of nanomaterials and to tailor them to specific needs, a thorough understanding of the mutual interplay of size, structure and physical properties is mandatory.
This quest is at the heart of our scientific activities which comprise, but are not limited to activities in the following fields: