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October 13, 2011

Iowa State, Ames Lab physicist says nanoparticle assembly is like building with LEGOs

New processes that allow nanoparticles to assemble themselves into designer materials could solve some of today's technology challenges

The controlled self-assembly of nanoparticles could help researchers create new materials with unique electrical, optical, mechanical or transport properties.

"Nanoparticle self-assembly has entered the LEGO era," Travesset said. "You can really work with nanoparticles in the same way you can work with LEGOs. This represents a breakthrough in the way we can manipulate matter. Really revolutionary applications will come.

This image shows a crystal of nanoparticles (the red and blue spheres) held together by DNA strands (the orange lines) via the hybridization of complementary sequences (the blue and red rings). Larger image. Image courtesy of Chris Knorowski.

This is a discussion of the work by Chad Mirkin which was covered earlier today.

The developments by the Mirkin and Schatz research team are "likely to elevate DNA-programmed self-assembly into a technique for the design of nanoparticle structures a la carte," Travesset wrote.





There are immediate important applications related to catalysis, medical sensing, new optical materials or metamaterials, and others that will follow from these studies.

Most likely, however, many other applications will arise as we dig deeper, understand better, expand further, and tinker with the opportunities provided by these materials.


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