The prime reason for the COST Action NanoSpectroscopy is the conviction that by promoting a Europe-wide dialogue and network between key actors in nanospectroscopy across different disciplines, countries, techniques, and targeted applications, as well as between academia and stakeholders in industry, the powerful techniques which form the basis of nanospectroscopy can be much more efficiently employed, more broadly distributed, and more key questions of scientific, industrial, and societal interest can be identified for which nanospectroscopy can find an answer. Optical spectroscopy at the nanoscale emerged in the late 1980s to early 1990s, and much progress has been made to date in understanding aspects of the behaviour of nano-materials. Still, many technical limitations and open questions remain, such as: How can sensitivity be further improved and single nano-objects be selectively addressed? What are the processes involved and the emerging properties when different types of nano-systems are coupled? What added value can hybrid nano-systems bring for technological applications? Current scientific endeavours tend to lead to segregation into separate communities according to the types of nanostructure under investigation. This COST Action will aim to promote a cohesive community across Europe that seeks to establish/maintain a world-leading position for European nanospectroscopy.
In many respects, nanospectroscopy techniques are still restricted to research laboratories, since they require elaborate equipment, expert knowledge on data analysis, and are not yet optimized for large areas, extreme conditions, or minimum time consumption. To make these promising techniques more accessible, a network of experts from fundamental and applied research as well as R&D is required. The COST Action scheme was therefore identified as an ideal means to promote European dialogue. Significant potential is perceived for technology transfer and collaboration with industry, in which Europe can lead the way if sufficient resources are allocated for co-ordinating the research efforts.
The objectives of this Action are to advance nanospectroscopic techniques, knowledge on the nanoscale properties of novel materials, and the distribution of nanospectroscopy. The pursuit of these objectives is expected to result in instrumentation and approaches with improved performances that are easier to operate for a broader set of users, and in the synthesis and fabrication of novel nanomaterials. The means needed to achieve them include the exchange of knowledge and ideas on different methods and analyte systems, from which new fruitful combinations and collaborations will arise. It is a crucial goal of this COST Action to engage in a dialogue with relevant industry partners. The Action is convinced that the improvement of existing nanospectroscopy techniques and equipment, in terms of stability, ease of data analysis and broader applications, will promote the implementation of these techniques by industry.
As future benefits, a new generation of nanospectroscopy researchers will be trained within the Action. New basic knowledge on the fundamental processes of life, material properties, and energy transfer processes will be gained, which will be of great significance for future applications. Key challenges currently faced by European societies can thus be addressed in the fields of energy efficiency (solar cells, batteries, LEDs, sensors, material design), healthcare/medicine for an ageing society (drug design and targeted delivery, early disease detection), or material design (stability, hydrophobicity, low friction, high intensity yield, cost effectiveness, ...). The short-term goals are mainly aimed at scientific and technological advances, while the long-term economic and societal benefits of the results may prove to be considerable as well.