The nano-scale test tube is so small that a high-power electron microscope was required to see the experiment.
Made from a thin shell of carbon, the test tube was stuffed with a thread-like crystal (a nanowire) of germanium with a tiny particle of gold at its tip.
The researchers heated the test tube and watched as the gold melted at the end of the nanowire, much like any solid crystal heated above its melting temperature in a glass test tube.
"The experiment is relatively simple," said chemical engineer Brian Korgel, whose laboratory conducted it. "Essentially, we observe well-known phenomena, like melting, capillarity and diffusion, but at a much, much smaller scale than has been possible to see before."
Such experiments provide new fundamental insights about how nanomaterials behave, and might be used to create new technologies, from better solar cells to unprecedentedly strong yet light-weight materials to higher performance optical displays and computing technologies.
Korgel and graduate students Vincent Holmberg and Matthew Panthani conducted the experiment, which was reported in the Oct. 16 edition of Science.
During the experiment, the nanowire melted as the temperature rose, but its shape was retained because the carbon test tube maintained its shape.
"In these very small structures, the phase behavior (like its melting temperature, etc.) can be different than bulk materials and can be size-dependent," Korgel said. "Therefore, if the structure changes when the phase change happens, then the result becomes very difficult to interpret and in fact, may not even represent the true behavior of the system."
The carbon test tube, however, provided a rigid container for studying what happens when materials are heated and melted at the nanoscale.
Funding for the research came from the Robert A. Welch Foundation and the National Science Foundation. Holmberg received support from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation and the National Science Foundation for a Graduate Research Fellowship.
For more information on Korgel's work, go to: www.che.utexas.edu/korgel-group/
For more information, contact: Brian Korgel, Cockrell School of Engineering, 512-471-5633, Korgel@mail.che.utexas.edu; Tim Green, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-6596.
Tim Green | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy