The researchers hope the technology, which NIST plans to patent, will lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of nanoparticles in fluids and, ultimately, process control techniques to optimize the assembly of nanotech devices.
While some nanoscale fabrication techniques borrow from the lithography and solid state methods of the microelectronics industry, an equally promising approach relies on “directed self-assembly.” This capitalizes on physical properties and chemical affinities of nanoparticles in solutions to induce them to gather and arrange themselves in desired structures at desired locations. Potential products include extraordinarily sensitive chemical and biological sensor arrays, and new medical and diagnostic materials based on “quantum dots” and other nanoscale materials. But when your product is too small to be seen, monitoring the assembly process is difficult.
Microscopes can help, but a microscope sees a three-dimensional fluid volume as a 2-D plane. There’s no real sense of the “up and down” movement of particles in its field of view except that they get more or less fuzzy as they move across the plane where the instrument is in focus. To date, attempts to provide a 3-D view of the movements of nanoparticles in solution largely have relied on that fuzziness. Optics theory and mathematics can estimate how far a particle is above or below the focal plane based on diffraction patterns in the fuzziness. The math, however, is extremely difficult and time consuming and the algorithms are imprecise in practice.
One alternative, NIST researchers reported at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society,* is to use geometry instead of algebra. Specifically, angled side walls of the microscopic sample well act as mirrors to reflect side views of the volume up to the microscope at the same time as the top view. (The typical sample well is 20 microns square and 15 microns deep.) The microscope sees each particle twice, one image in the horizontal plane and one in the vertical. Because the two planes have one dimension in common, it’s a simple calculation to correlate the two and figure out each particle’s 3-D path. “Basically, we reduce the problem of tracking in 3-D to the problem of tracking in 2-D twice,” explains lead author Matthew McMahon.
The 2-D problem is simpler to solve—several software techniques can calculate and track 2-D position to better than 10 nanometers. Measuring the nanoparticle motion at that fine scale—speeds, diffusion and the like—will allow researchers to calculate the forces acting on the particles and better understand the basic rules of interaction between the various components. That in turn will allow better design and control of nanoparticle assembly processes.
Michael Baum | EurekAlert!
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16.11.2017 | University of California - Santa Cruz
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
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