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 The material that obscures supermassive black holes
26.09.2017 | Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC)

nachricht Creative use of noise brings bio-inspired electronic improvement
26.09.2017 | American Institute of Physics

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: The fastest light-driven current source

Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.

Graphene is up to the job

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan

26.09.2017 | Information Technology

The material that obscures supermassive black holes

26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Ageless ears? Elderly barn owls do not become hard of hearing

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>