Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unveiling the structure of microcrystals

04.10.2007
Microcrystals take the form of tiny grains, so small that they resemble a powder. How can we determine their structure? Until today, the technique of X-ray diffraction, normally used to study crystals, was not an appropriate solution.

For the first time, researchers from the ESRF and the CNRS have used X-ray diffraction to determine the structure of microcrystal grains of only one cubic micrometre in size. They gained a factor of a thousand on the size of the analysable samples thanks to new equipment created at the ESRF. This breakthrough opens up new possibilities of research to chemists, physicists and biologists.

The properties of a crystal are determined by the arrangement of its atom in space, its crystalline structure. Scientists use X-ray or neutron diffraction to study crystalline structure when the size of the crystal is more than 10 cubic micrometres. Below this limit, the solid material is considered a powder. Scientists can apply powder diffraction to analyse such a material but this technique is not easy to exploit. Moreover, powder diffraction can only be used for materials with grain sizes of less than three millionths of a cubic micrometre. Due to these limitations, a determination of the structure of new synthetic solids in powder form is not always possible because the crystals are too small.

The teams from the ESRF and the Institute Lavoisier (CNRS/Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin) have used new set-up permitting X-ray diffraction on crystals of a size of one cubic micrometre, a volume a thousand times smaller than that ever attainable before. This new set-up consists of a focussing system for the ESRF beam, coupled with a goniometer, an instrument to position the sample with maximum precision.

The researchers studied the structure of an organic-inorganic hybrid compound (a microporous aluminium carboxylate), which could be used for gas absorption or to encapsulate various organic molecules. This study confirms that the new set-up allows pushing back the limits in crystal dimension accessible to X-ray diffraction. “It is a revolution: what was considered a powder in the past has become a crystal today. Researchers can now bring forward samples left in their cupboards because the sizes had previously prevented their study. Now they will be able to elucidate the structures of these samples, with potentially great scientific advances on the horizon”, explains Thierry Loiseau, from the Institut Lavoisier.

Montserrat Capellas | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrf.fr/news/pressreleases/microcrystals/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>