The World's Smallest Spontaneous Atomic Valentine

Feb 14, 2010 by Ted Goodman weblog
The Jeol 2100F microscope, a new generation aberration-corrected electron microscope, allows a clear view of the palladium atoms.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Palladium atoms placed on a carbon base spontaneously formed into an 8 nanometer heart at the University of Birmingham’s Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory this week. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

According to the physicists observing the atoms through the Lab’s JEOL 2100F microscope, Zhiwei Wang and David Pearmain, they watched with love, but really had absolutely nothing to do with the heart formation of the atoms.

Sadly, the bright, beautiful Valentine will not be given to a special lady. Being only 8 in size, it can’t be seen by the human eye, and cannot even be relied upon to stay in the smallest ring setting. But we can all admire the wonderful high-angle, very high-power shot of the world's smallest and, arguably, prettiest naturally-formed Valentine.

Although the palladium Valentine was a nice surprise for the scientists, they actually have other reasons for studying the palladium atoms. Professor Richard Palmer, head of the Laboratory explained:

"Size-selected atomic clusters, of the kind which fused together to assemble the atomic heart, are of practical relevance as model catalysts; the palladium/carbon system is employed as a real industrial catalyst in the fine chemicals sector. Precise control of the atomic architecture of the clusters may lead to enhanced yield and especially selectivity in complex catalytic reactions, as well as reducing the number of needed to catalyze the reaction."

The Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory was established in 1994 as the first centre for in the UK. Four spin-off companies have been generated from the Laboratory since 2005.

Explore further: Scanning tunnelling microscopy: Computer simulations sharpen insights into molecules

More information: Information provided by: Professor Richard Palmer, The Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory, University of Birmingham.

Related Stories

Platinum nanocatalyst could aid drugmakers

Aug 31, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Nanoparticles combining platinum and gold act as superefficient catalysts, but chemists have struggled to create them in an industrially useful form. Rice University chemists have answered the call this week ...

Bacteria-based nanoclusters

Aug 18, 2006

Scientists from the research center Forschungszentrum Rossendorf (Germany) use the survival mechanism of special bacteria to produce solid nanoclusters out of palladium. The tiny bullets, only a few billions ...

Through the Wire: A New Nanocatalyst Synthesis Technique

Mar 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Materials containing bimetallic nanoparticles are attractive in vast technological fields because of their unique catalytic, electronic, and magnetic properties. One of the most promising ...

New hydrogen sensor faster, more sensitive

May 25, 2005

The same kind of chemical coating used to shed rainwater from aircraft and automobile windows also dramatically enhances the sensitivity and reaction time of hydrogen sensors. Hydrogen sensor technology is a critical component ...

Recommended for you

Protons fuel graphene prospects

Nov 26, 2014

Graphene, impermeable to all gases and liquids, can easily allow protons to pass through it, University of Manchester researchers have found.

Cooling with the coldest matter in the world

Nov 24, 2014

Physicists at the University of Basel have developed a new cooling technique for mechanical quantum systems. Using an ultracold atomic gas, the vibrations of a membrane were cooled down to less than 1 degree ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Ausjin
not rated yet Feb 14, 2010
See? That's all science wants. For us to make an effort to get to know it better.
bc2000
Feb 14, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
jselin
not rated yet Feb 15, 2010
How big was the previous record holding spontaneous atomic valentine???

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.