Atomic structure of nanoparticles brought under control

Jun 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: Toward making lithium-sulfur batteries a commercial reality for a bigger energy punch

More information: DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.245502

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

3D nanoparticle in atomic resolution

Feb 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 ...

Designing materials for the future

Jun 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 ...

New record for world's smallest atomic valentine

Feb 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 ...

New record for measurement of atomic lifetime

Sep 07, 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 ...

Recommended for you

For electronics beyond silicon, a new contender emerges

Sep 16, 2014

Silicon has few serious competitors as the material of choice in the electronics industry. Yet transistors, the switchable valves that control the flow of electrons in a circuit, cannot simply keep shrinking ...

Making quantum dots glow brighter

Sep 16, 2014

Researchers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Oklahoma have found a new way to control the properties of quantum dots, those tiny chunks of semiconductor material that glow ...

The future face of molecular electronics

Sep 16, 2014

The emerging field of molecular electronics could take our definition of portable to the next level, enabling the construction of tiny circuits from molecular components. In these highly efficient devices, ...

Study sheds new light on why batteries go bad

Sep 14, 2014

A comprehensive look at how tiny particles in a lithium ion battery electrode behave shows that rapid-charging the battery and using it to do high-power, rapidly draining work may not be as damaging as researchers ...

User comments : 0