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The University of Southampton


Specialising in the development of novel nanoporous materials and innovative electrochemistries, Nanotecture is a thriving commercial business which originated from University research on lyotropic liquid crystal templating of nanostructured materials.

Developments by Nanotecture
Mesoporous film

Founded in 2003, Nanotecture was developed to exploit fundamental work into the templating of mesoporous materials using lyotropic liquid crystalline phases originating in Professor George Attard’s group at the University of Southampton.

Work by the group throughout the 1990s led to the realisation that if the liquid crystalline phase was used as the template, as opposed to more dilute solutions of surfactant molecules being used by others, mesoporous silicas could be prepared with predictable and easily controlled structures both as coatings, powders and monoliths.

Using this approach the group also demonstrated the first examples of mesoporous metals, prepared by chemical reduction of metal salt dissolved in the liquid crystalline template. With funding from the EPSRC, and through collaboration with Professors Phil Bartlett and John Owen and their research groups, the concept of using the same approach to template the deposition of metals by electrochemical reduction of the corresponding metal salt dissolved in the template mixture was developed.

This ability to use lyotropic liquid crystal templates to control the structure of metals at the nanometre scale, led to unique opportunities to produce new materials with a wide range of applications, and was spun-out into a successful commercial venture.

Today, Nantotecture seeks to exploit the properties of new materials which can be prepared with regularly spaced pores just nanometres apart that may have applications in energy storage, separation of bio molecules, or in sensors.
Recent developments at Nanotecture have included new supercapacitor technology with applications in both the consumer electronic and energy storage sectors. The essence of the technology is to spread an active battery material over the vast internal surface of a nanostructured metal electrode to give dramatically increased charge and discharge rates. The result is a fast discharge supercapacitor with an energy density as high as that of a battery.

The improved power density of these nonporous materials for supercapacitors means the approach can be applied to a range of energy storage applications such as the transport sector (most notably applications associated with hybrid vehicles) the electric utility grid and in energy conservation.

Professor Phil Bartlett, co-founder of Nanotecture says: “The opportunity to participate in taking an idea from the laboratory bench all the way to market is enormously exciting. Nanotecture retains close links with its academic heritage, which is a solid foundation for innovation and future development.”

Nanotecture may be able to offer a limited number of placements for undergraduates to spend some research time in the environment of a spin-out company.

Spin-out company success

Nanotecture wins Frost & Sullivan’s European Union Technology Innovation Award

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