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Nanocomposites Science and Technology. By Pulickel M. Ajayan Linda S. Schadler and Paul V

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Candid Science III
More Conversations with Famous
Chemists. By Istvn
Hargittai. Imperial
College Press,
London 2003.
507 pp., softcover
£ 48.00.—ISBN
Candid Science III is the third volume of
a planned five-volume series, which
began with Candid Science: Conversations with Famous Chemists (see
Angew. Chem. 2001, 113, 1833; Angew.
Chem. Int. Ed. 2001, 40, 2179). The
second volume was devoted to conversations with famous biomedical scientists, and now this third volume returns
to famous chemists. (The fourth will be
concerned with famous physicists,
while the theme of the fifth remains to
be decided.)
The volume reviewed here made me
rather annoyed at first, because its contents do not fully live up to the title.
Many of the articles in it are not conversations at all, in the sense of interviews,
but are monologues (for example, Stephan Mason's contribution is a concise
and well-written history of chemistry,
but contains very little personal information—it reads as though some passages have been reproduced from other
sources). Others are life histories that
give the impression of having been written as advertisements. Yet others are
described as “profiles” or “narratives”,
and have clearly been written by Hargittai himself. Moreover, many of those
that are actually conversations have
already been published elsewhere,
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 1909 – 1910
although the journal in question (The
Chemical Intelligencer) has since
ceased publication; many other journals
based on the idea of republishing articles that are no longer available have
also disappeared, probably through
lack of interest. Lastly, many of the conversations failed to use the opportunity
to properly engage and question the
chemist in such a way as to get candid
(as in the title) and honest answers,
rather than simply churning out a set
of replies to a standard questionnaire.
An example: in the conversation with
Glenn Seaborg he criticizes the media
for unjustified exaggeration of the
importance of waste disposal problems
associated with nuclear-energy production, and thus deliberately generating
fear and discrediting the nuclear industry. Instead of countering that by pressing Seaborg to explain why that was
unjustified, Hargittai switches to asking
about the controversy over the naming
of new artificial elements, in which Seaborg is well-known to have been
involved—that is also interesting, but
has nothing to do with the original subject. One often notices similar discontinuous jumps in the conduct of interviews.
Lastly—and this will really end my list
of complaints—for some of the subjects
there is more than enough autobiographical material (e.g., Cram, Merrifield).
But then, just as happened on reading the first volume, one simply gets carried away and fascinated by the thoughts
of the interesting people in the book,
their experiences—most of their lives
began in modest circumstances, often
insights into the way science proceeds,
the development of their research interests. I found these aspects especially
interesting in the cases of Albert
Eschenmoser, Henry Taube, and Mildred Cohn. I was also pleased to find
interviews with chemists such as Alfred
Bader, who, although not himself a
researcher, made a great contribution
to research. Finally—and this also
applies to the first volume—by interviewing several scientists active in specific areas of research Hargittai reveals
unsuspected links of both a scientific
and a personal kind (e.g., between Herschenbach and Polanyi, between Eigen,
Prigogine, and Zhabotinsky, between
Deisenhofer, Huber, and Michel). In
this way one is able to view a subject
from different aspects as seen by different individuals; sometimes also, by reading between the lines, the reader can
enjoy the pleasure associated with
gossip and speculation.
One might have hoped that Hargittai, after having presented such a
wealth of information about successful
scientists through these conversations,
would have added a closing chapter
summarizing the quintessence of these
talks and contacts, so as to illustrate
some of the qualities that help with creativity. However, he has not chosen to
follow that route, but has instead made
use of his broad interviewing experiences and insights in another recently published book, The Road to Stockholm
(Oxford University Press), which will
also be reviewed in this journal.
Henning Hopf
Institut f-r Organische Chemie
Technische Universit1t Braunschweig
Nanocomposites Science and
By Pulickel M.
Ajayan, Linda S.
Schadler, and
Paul V. Braun.
Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2003. 238 pp.,
E 149.00.—ISBN
At present any author who writes the
prefix “nano-” can be almost certain of
grabbing the reader's attention. In view
of that, the authors Ajayan, Schadler,
and Braun have indeed chosen a good
time to publish their monograph on
nanocomposites. The book, with three
main sections devoted to inorganic, polymer-based, and natural (or naturederived) nanocomposites, covers the
field comprehensively.
9 2004 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
Because of the wealth of subject
matter in the book, the reader would
hope to find a clear system of sub-division to allow rapid navigation through
the many topics. However, he or she
will often be disappointed in that
regard. To begin with, the list of contents
is not very helpful visually, since
although it has many sub-headings,
these are not indented, and therefore
the pages appear unstructured. Secondly, the actual arrangement of the
contents is questionable. When the
author of the first section, in his introduction, explains that it will contain
“some examples of metal/ceramics
nanocomposite systems”, he already
gives an implied hint that aiming for a
systematic presentation has not been a
high priority. Indeed, we find that several sub-chapters mainly concerned
with structure and synthesis appear
alongside others dealing with special
properties and applications, and yet
others on special topics such as
“Carbon Nanotube-Based Nanocomposites” or “Functional Low-Dimensional
Nanocomposites”. The term “inorganic
nanocomposites”, which appears in the
titles of two of the sub-chapters, turns
out (with no further explanation) to be
just a general term above the subtitle
“Metal and Ceramic Nanocomposites”,
which prompts one to ask why the
whole of this main section was not
given the latter title. Nevertheless, the
subject is presented in an easily understandable form, although without any
in-depth discussion. The many figures
and graphics make this section visually
attractive by breaking up the text, and
they increase the information content.
The last comment also applies to the
second main section, which is devoted to
polymer nanocomposites. The section
has a clear structure, with the headings
“Fillers”, “Interfaces”, “Processing”,
and “Properties”, although this clarity
is not entirely maintained for the
detailed topics of the sub-chapters. For
example, the sub-chapter on “Inorganic
Filler–Polymer Interfaces” would probably have been better placed with that
on “Modification at Interfaces”, which
appears in another part of the section.
The sub-chapter on “Plate-Like Nanofillers” fails to mention that a comprehensive monograph on this subject has
been published (T. J. Pinnavaia, G. W.
Beal: Polymer–Clay Nanocomposites,
John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2000).
Under the topic of polymer–clay systems which are discussed in this subchapter, it would have been useful to
devote a separate paragraph to polyester systems, instead of just mentioning
these in passing under “Others”. Up to
now, the commercial applications of polymer nanocomposites have not been
very numerous, and therefore, under
“Thermal Stability and Flammability”,
the layer-silicate-modified ethylenevinyl acetate-based cable material manufactured by Kabelwerke Eupen, could
have been mentioned; however, the
American author of this part can perhaps be excused for not having included
it. On the other hand, one would certainly expect her to be aware of the
layer-silicate-modified polyamide manufactured by Honeywell.
In the third main section the overwhelming emphasis is not, as one
would expect, on natural or nature-
9 2004 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
derived nanocomposites; unfortunately
these are only treated briefly. Instead,
the section is mainly concerned with
synthetic systems that are based on
nature (namely, are “biologically
inspired”) and can be produced by template methods. This subject is certainly
interesting enough in its own right, and
is well-presented here, so it did not
need to be justified by hanging it on
the “nature” peg. In some cases the
materials obtained are not nanocomposites in the strict sense, but are nanostructured single-component systems;
however, one should not take too
narrow a view about that.
Who should read this book? The
authors do not seem to have any specific
readership in mind, since in their preface they refer simply to “our readers”.
In fact, as the book is written in an
easily understandable style, it appears
that a relevant specialization or previous
knowledge are not essential prerequisites to benefit from reading it. In view
of the weaknesses in the systematic
organization already mentioned, the
readers likely to gain most from it are
those who will treat it rather as a collection of material on the subject, and can
make good use of the painstakingly
assembled wealth of literature references that it offers.
Hans-Helmut G(rtz, Thomas Breiner
BASF AG, Thermoplastics Research
Ludwigshafen (Germany)
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200385092
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 1909 – 1910
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pulickel, paulo, ajayan, nanocomposites, technology, lindo, schadler, science
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