Imagine a computer chip that can assemble itself.
According to Eric M. Furst, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Delaware, engineers and scientists are closer to making this and other scalable forms of nanotechnology a reality as a result of new milestones in using nanoparticles as building blocks in functional materials.
Furst and his postdoctoral researchers, James Swan and Paula Vasquez, along with colleagues at NASA, the European Space Agency, Zin Technologies and Lehigh University, reported the finding Sept. 17 in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS) online edition.
The article details how the research team’s exploration of colloids, microscopic particles that are mere hundredths the diameter of a human hair, to better understand how nano-”building blocks” can be directed to “self-assemble” into specific structures.
The research team studied paramagnetic colloids while periodically applying an external magnetic field at different intervals. With just the right frequency and field strength, the team was able to watch the particles transition from a random, solid like material into highly organized crystalline structures or lattices.
According to Furst, a professor in UD’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, no one before has ever witnessed this guided “phase separation” of particles.
via Science Daily
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