A May 28, 2014 news item on Azonano describes a new technique that could lead to controlling the growth of metal oxide crystals,
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 [University of Warwick] 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”.
A May ??, 2014 University of Warwick news release, which originated the news item provides more details about the technique (Note: A link has been removed),
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 Nicholas 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.
Here’s a link to and a citation for the research paper,
Fabrication of crystals from single metal atoms by Nicolas P. E. Barry, Anaïs Pitto-Barry, Ana M. Sanchez, Andrew P. Dove, Richard J. Procter, Joan J. Soldevila-Barreda, Nigel Kirby, Ian Hands-Portman, Corinne J. Smith, Rachel K. O’Reilly, Richard Beanland, & Peter J. Sadler. Nature Communications 5, Article number: 3851 doi:10.1038/ncomms4851 Published 27 May 2014
This is an open access paper.