The characterisation of the nanomaterials and the study of their functions rely on techniques that are often very elaborate, and that can only be used through the collaboration of specialists in these fields. Most important are the structural characterisation techniques, which combine classical laboratory techniques and large equipments (synchrotron radiation). We should also cite optics in the field of visible and X-rays, which play a central role in the characterisation of complex molecular systems, the X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), and the magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD), to characterise the electronic structure and the local magnetic properties, finally the experiments in time resolved optics and near field microscopy. In addition, there are the most sophisticated magnetic measuring techniques (microSquid, high magnetic fields, high frequencies, rapid dynamics) that constitute a crucial instrumentation for the proposed studies.
Finally, the comprehension of mechanisms that govern the physico-chemical properties that are often unreported, require significant theoretical and modelling effort, most notably by relying on recent codes, using the functional density.
The objective for forming a network at a national level would be to identify and structure the strengths and competencies in the various fields, in order to be able to meet the challenges that will emerge over the next decade. It would be natural that such a network, over time, would be able to expand by involving European partners. Furthermore, there already exist strong relationships with several Japanese institutions – AIST, NIMS, and RIKEN – which have been organised around a nanotechnology network. A privileged partnership should be quickly established with these research centres, most notably for the exchange of PhD students and post-docs.