Atomic structure of nanoparticles brought under control

June 14, 2012 by Richard Palmer
Image: Professor Richard E Palmer / University of Birmingham

Nanotechnologists are control freaks. They want to exploit the properties of materials at the ultimate level - the atoms.

Imagine the frustration therefore when you build a near million dollar machine to create beams of nanoparticles, each containing a precisely selected number of atoms, 923 say (a "magic number"), and then you find that you've made at least three different atomic architectures at the same time, like three flavours of ice cream. You want to find some way to transform all the flavours into one.

Wang and Palmer at the University of Birmingham, UK, (Physical Review Letters 108 245502, 2012) have found a solution to the challenge.

They use the superfine beam in the aberration-corrected first to reveal the various 3-dimensional - the "isomers" of their gold nanoclusters - and then, by prolonged illumination with the , they drive the particles one by one towards their most stable, equilibrium structures.

The result is a personalised video for each particle, showing the atoms on the move towards their atomic destinations - stable configurations like the decahedron.

Apart from satisfying the desire for control, the results provide a new reference for computational models of nanostructure dynamics, down to the atom scale.

Explore further: 3D nanoparticle in atomic resolution

More information: DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.245502

Related Stories

3D nanoparticle in atomic resolution

February 22, 2011

For the first time, scientists from Empa and ETH Zurich have, in collaboration with a Dutch team, managed to measure the atomic structure of individual nanoparticles. The technique, recently published in Nature, could help ...

New record for measurement of atomic lifetime

September 7, 2011

Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute have measured the lifetime of an extremely stable energy level of magnesium atoms with great precision. Magnesium atoms are used in research with ultra-precise atomic clocks. The new ...

New record for world's smallest atomic valentine

February 14, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Shattering their own world record from two years ago, scientists from the University of Birmingham in the UK have created the unofficial world’s smallest atomic valentine. Their tiny heart measures approximately ...

Designing materials for the future

June 12, 2012

As energy demands rise, materials scientists are increasingly interested in developing longer-lasting materials for use in the next generation of advanced nuclear and fusion reactors. However, before researchers can think ...

Recommended for you

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity

July 28, 2015

When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them constitute the bulk of the expense. The solar cells—made often of silicon or cadmium telluride—rarely cost more than 20 percent ...

Meet the high-performance single-molecule diode

July 29, 2015

A team of researchers from Berkeley Lab and Columbia University has passed a major milestone in molecular electronics with the creation of the world's highest-performance single-molecule diode. Working at Berkeley Lab's Molecular ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.