The same type of forces are at work bringing the building blocks of viruses together, and the inorganic supercluster structures in this research are in many ways similar to viruses.
Engineering researchers have discovered that under the right circumstances, basic atomic forces can be exploited to enable nanoparticles to assemble into superclusters that are uniform in size and share attributes with viruses. Credit: T.D.Nguyen, Glotzer Group, University of Michigan
U-M chemical engineering professors Nicholas Kotov and Sharon Glotzer led the research. The findings are newly published online in Nature Nanotechnology.
In another instance of forces behaving in unexpected ways at the nanoscale, they discovered that if you start with small nanoscale building blocks that are varied enough in size, the electrostatic repulsion force and van der Waals attraction force will balance each other and limit the growth of the clusters. This equilibrium enables the formation of clusters that are uniform in size.
"The breakthrough here is that we've discovered a generic mechanism that causes these nanoparticles to assemble into near perfect structures," Glotzer said. "The physics that we see is not special to this system, and could be exploited with other materials. Now that we know how it works, we can design new building blocks that will assemble the same way."
The inorganic superclusters—technically called "supraparticles"—that the researchers created out of red, powdery cadmium selenide are not artificial viruses. But they do share many attributes with the simplest forms of life, including size, shape, core-shell structure and the abilities to both assemble and dissemble, Kotov said.
"Having these functionalities in totally inorganic system is quite remarkable," Kotov said. "There is the potential to combine them with the beneficial properties of inorganic materials such as environmental resilience, light adsorption and electrical conductivity."
Zhiyong Tang, a collaborating professor at the National Center of Nanoscience and Technology in China, said, "It is also very impressive that such supraparticles can be further used as the building blocks to fabricate three-dimensional ordered assemblies. This secondary self-assembly behavior provides a feasible way to obtain large-scale nanostructures that are important for practical application."
Kotov is currently working on "breeding" these supraparticles to produce synthetic fuels from carbon dioxide. The work also has applications in drug delivery and solar cell research and it could dramatically reduce the cost of manufacturing large quantities of supraparticles.
"By replicating the self-assembly processes that allow living organisms to grow and heal, we can simplify the production of many useful nanostructured systems from semiconductors and metals so much so that they can be made in any high school laboratory," Kotov said.
This research is funded by the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army Research Office.
Nicole Casal Moore | EurekAlert!
‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie
Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel
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...
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...
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...
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...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy