Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists unveil first method for controlling the growth of metal crystals


Researchers have announced the first ever method for controlling the growth of metal-crystals from single atoms.

Published in the journal Nature Communications and developed at the University of Warwick, the method, called Nanocrystallometry, allows for the creation of precise components for use in nanotechnology.

Professor Peter Sadler from the University's Department of Chemistry commented that "The breakthrough with Nanocrystallometry is that it actually allows us to observe and directly control the nano-world in motion".

Using a doped-graphene matrix to slow down and then trap atoms of the precious metal osmium the researchers were able to control and quantify the growth of metal-crystals. When the trapped atoms come into contact with further osmium atoms they bind together, eventually growing into 3D metal-crystals.

"Tailoring nanoscopic objects is of enormous importance for the production of the materials of the future", says Dr Barry from the University's Department of Chemistry. "Until now the formation of metal nanocrystals, which are essential to those future materials, could not be controlled with precision at the level of individual atoms, under mild and accessible conditions."

Prof. Sadler says: "Nanocrystallometry's significance is that it has made it possible to grow with precision metal-crystals which can be as small as only 0.00000015cm, or 15 ångström, wide. If a nanodevice requires a million osmium atoms then from 1 gram of osmium we can make about 400 thousand devices for every person on this earth. Compared to existing methods of crystal growth Nanocrystallometry offers a significant improvement in the economic and efficient manufacture of precision nanoscopic objects."

The researchers argue that the new method possesses a range of potential uses. "We envision the use Nanocrystallometry to build precise, atomic-level electronic circuits and new nano-information storage devices. The method also has significant potential for use in the biosensing of drugs, DNA and gases as well for creating unique nano-patterns on surfaces for security labelling and sealing confidential documents. Nanocrystallometry is also an innovative method for producing new metal nano-alloys, and many combinations can be envisaged. They may have very unusual and as yet unexplored properties", commented Dr Barry.

Nanocrystallometry was made possible by state-of-the-art facilities that are only to be found in the UK at the University of Warwick. "The advances in have been made possible thanks to our use of a state-of-the-art aberration-corrected high-resolution transmission electron microscope, the only one microscope of this kind in the UK, that has the potential to image individual atoms in this way. We know that things are made of atoms, but it is really rare to see them dancing in front of your eyes", says Dr Richard Beanland from the University's Department of Physics.

Commenting on the commercial potential for Nanocrystallometry Andrew Lee, Business Development Manager at Warwick Ventures said: "We think that the team's technique could be a real break-through in terms of offering the capability for micromanipulation and derivatization of a graphene surface; seeing multiple commercial opportunities arising in the future. We have put a patent application in place and we are actively seeking industrial partners with whom to collaborate in the future."

Tom Frew | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Warwick crystals materials osmium state-of-the-art

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Nanopores could take the salt out of seawater
12.11.2015 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Coking of fluid fuels - New procedure shall analyze and avoid reasons
06.11.2015 | Oel-Waerme-Institut GmbH

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Using sphere packing models to explain the structure of forests

26.11.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Dimensionality transition in a newly created material

26.11.2015 | Materials Sciences

Revealing glacier flow with animated satellite images

26.11.2015 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>