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The third International Conference on Multifunctional, Hybrid and Nanomaterials (Hybrid Materials 2013) was held on March 3-7, 2013 in Sorrento, Italy at the Hilton Sorrento Palace Hotel. This conference is held every two years. The inaugural First Conference took place in March 2009 in Tours, France, and the second edition was held in March 2011 in Strasbourg, France.

The main objective of this interdisciplinary conference is to bring together, at an international level, people with shared interests in hybrid materials. The conference programme was offering a considerable variety of topics. The oral part of the programme consisted of 5 Plenary Lectures, 3 Tutorials as well as 150 Regular Oral and 33 Invited and Featured Oral Presentations given within the three parallel symposia: on Biohybrids and Biomaterials; Functional Hybrid Nanomaterials, Nanocomposites and their Applications; and Functional Porous Materials. The symposium A, Biohybrids and biomaterials, highlighted recent advances in the design of functional materials that mimic, or inspired by materials found in nature. Materials prepared using biological systems, including living organisms and renewable sources and materials, was also covered. Nanostructural control for the delivery of biological molecules and cells was reviewed. Another topic of focus will be hybrid materials specifically designed for biomedical applications. The symposium B, Functional hybrid nanomaterials, nanocomposites and their applications, focused on nanochemistry and nanotectonic based approaches to hybrid materials, including polymer-matrix nanocomposites, hybrid nanomaterials and functional nanostructures. Equal attention was paid to recent development in polymer science, metallic/oxide nanoparticle design and characterization/properties of the organic-inorganic interface at the nanoscale. The symposium C, Functional porous materials, was dedicated to preparation and applications of porous hybrid materials, including zeolites, MOFs and meso/macroporous materials, with special emphasize on self-assembly and templated growth processing and rational design of hierarchical structures. In addition, the three poster sessions featured more than 700 posters. To offer the poster presenter better chances to attract attention with their work, each poster session this time consisted of two long parts within the same day. This 2013 edition was attended by more than 900 participants from more than 50 countries.

Information on sol-gel related talks:

The plenary lecture was delivered by Prof. Clément Sanchez (Collège de France, Paris, France), "From nanostructured to hierarchically structured functional inorganic and hybrid solids". Some recent advances on the chemistry and processing of nanostructured and hierarchically structured functional inorganic and hybrid Solids were described in this plenary lecture. The mild synthetic conditions provided by the sol-gel process such as metallo-organic precursors, low processing temperatures and the versatility of the colloidal state allow for the mixing of the organic and inorganic components at the nanometer scale in virtually any ratio. These features, and the advancement of organometallic chemistry, polymers and sol-gel processing, make possible a high degree of control over both composition and structure of these materials, which present tunable structure-property relationships.

A tutorial lecture was given by Prof. Kazuyuki Kuroda (Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan), “Functional porous materials - Preparation and applications”. An overview of preparation and applications of porous materials was presented. Creation of novel functional materials with highly organized structures at various length scales has become an important area of materials science. Motivated by the current issues on environment, energy, resources, and health, materials design of inorganic, organic, and hybrid systems has been a main topic of research. Several aspects on porous materials were discussed.

Professor Jeffery I. Zink (University of California, Los Angels, CA, USA) gave a featured talk, “Mechanized multifunctional nanoparticles for in vitro and in vivo targeting, imaging and drug delivery”. A review of recent topics ofmesoporous silica nanoparticles for biomedical applications was presented. Two types of molecular machines that are based on molecules that undergo large amplitude motion when attached to mesoporous silica are described: impellers and valves. Derivatized azobenzene molecules, attached to the interior pore walls function as impellers that can move other molecules through the pores. Nanoparticles containing toxic molecules in the mesopores are taken up by cancer cells, and optical stimulation of the impellers drives out the toxic molecules and kills the cells. Nanovalves consisting of rotaxanes and pseudorotaxanes, placed at pore entrances, can trap and release molecules from the pores in response to stimuli. The methods of activation that have been demonstrated for in vitro studies were also discussed.

Mr. Gen Hayase, a Ph.D. candidate of Kyoto University, Japan (Supervisor: Prof. Kazuki Nakanishi), gave an interesting oral presentation, “Facile synthesis of marshmallow-like gel derived from silicon alkoxides as co-precursor and their applications”. Novel macroporous inorganic-organic hybrid monoliths and sheets, “marshmallow-like gels”, were introduced. These gels have unique properties such as homogeneous macropores, superhydrophobic surface and “marshmallow-like” elastic and bendable futures, which can be controlled by organic substituents and precursor ratios. The possibility of marshmallow-like gels for applications was also discussed. As oil/water separating media by using superhydrophobic surface, these materials showed high oil-absorption ratio and reusability like sponge. Furthermore, they were stable and have flexibility from liquid nitrogen temperature to above 300 ºC. These results indicate that the marshmallow-like gels can be used on a wide field even under extreme conditions.

by Kiyofumi Katagiri, Hiroshima University, Japan.

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