Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Capping a two-faced particle gives duke engineers complete control

Scientists drew fittingly from Roman mythology when they named a unique class of miniscule particles after the god Janus, who is usually depicted as having two faces looking in opposite directions.

For years, scientists have been fascinated by the tantalizing possibilities of these particles for their potential applications in electronic display devices, sensors and many other devices.

However, realizing these applications requires precise control over the positions and orientation of the particles, something which has until now eluded scientists.

Duke University engineers say they can for the first time control all the degrees of the particle's motion, opening up broad possibilities for nanotechnology and device applications. Their unique technology should make it more likely that Janus particles can be used as the building blocks for a myriad of applications, including such new technologies as electronic paper and self-propelling micromachines.

Typical Janus particles consist of miniscule spherical beads that have one hemisphere coated with a magnetic or metallic material. External magnetic or electric fields can then be used to control the orientation of the particles. However, this coating interferes with optical beams, or traps, another tool scientists use to control positioning.

The breakthrough of Duke engineers was to devise a fabrication strategy to coat the particle with a much smaller fraction of material. This discovery allows these particles to be compatible with optical traps and external magnetic fields, allowing for total control over the particles' positions and orientations.

"Past experiments have only been able to achieve four degrees of control using a combination of magnetic and optical techniques," said Nathan Jenness, a graduate student who completed his studies this year from Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. He and co-author Randall Erb, also a graduate student, were first authors of a paper appearing online in the journal Advanced Materials. "We have created a novel Janus particle that can be manipulated or constrained with six degrees of freedom."

The researchers have dubbed the unique particles they created "dot-Janus" particles.

Using optical traps on dot-Janus particles, researchers controlled three degrees of movement – up and down, left and right, forward and backward, while constraining one degree of rotation - side-to-side tilting. Using magnetic fields, they controlled the remaining two degrees of rotation - forward and backward tilting, and left and right turning.

"The solution was to create a particle with a small cap of cobalt that covers about a quarter of the particle," Erb said. He and Jenness conducted their research in the laboratory of Benjamin Yellen, Duke assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. "This gave the particle just enough of a magnetic handle to allow it to be manipulated by magnetism without interfering with the optical tweezers."

The researchers said that the fabrication of these unique dot-Janus particles combined with the ability to control their orientation will have important ramifications in the burgeoning field of nanoengineering.

"Being able to more completely control these particles affords us a greater ability to measure the mechanical properties of biomolecules, including DNA," Yellen said. "It may also be possible to control the behavior of cells by manipulating dot-Janus particles attached to cell surfaces. These biological applications, as well as the ability to control the assembly of nanostructures, establish the broad scientific value of these findings."

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team. Robert Clark, former Duke dean of engineering and now in the same position at the University of Rochester, was also part of the research team.

Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht 3-D-printed structures shrink when heated
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

nachricht From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>