Wires, tubes and brushes make it possible to build and maintain the machines and devices we use on a daily basis. Now, with help from a surprising source, these same building blocks can easily be created on a scale 10,000 times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.
LEAD NANOPARTICLES — Scanning electron microscopy images of lead nanoparticles created with the electrodeposition technique. Shaped nanoparticles such as icosahedrons (a) and decahedrons (b) can be produced with voltages lower than 1.2 volts while elongated structures such as tripods (c) and nanobrushes (d) appear at higher voltages. The bar at the top of each image represents 500 nanometers (billionths of an inch).
Researchers at Argonne have figured out the basics of using electrochemistry to control the architecture of nanocrystals – small structures with dimensions in billionths of meters. Their findings, published in the March 3 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, provide a practical method of generating large quantities of architecture-controlled nanocrystals, such as superconductors, ferromagnets and noble metals.
"The architectures of the nanocrystals are mainly controlled by applied voltages," said lead scientist Zhili Xiao of Argonnes Materials Science Division and Northern Illinois Universitys Physics Department. "This gives us much greater control over the growth conditions of the nanocrystals. We were able to create a great variety of structures with greater convenience and predictability compared with more traditional methods."
Margret Chang | Argonne
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