Magazine article Science News

Falling into, Place: Atom Mist Yields Nanobricks and Mortar

Magazine article Science News

Falling into, Place: Atom Mist Yields Nanobricks and Mortar

Article excerpt

Nanotechnologists envision using tiny structures to create ultrastrong materials and to build memory chips that store entire libraries. But these visions require making matter behave in exceptionally orderly ways.

Now, materials scientists Jagdish Narayan and Ashutosh Tiwari of North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh have induced tiny particles, or nanodots, of nickel to spontaneously assemble into exceptionally uniform, three-dimensional arrays of macroscopic size.

With this method, they've also created blends of copper nanodots and tin that they say are harder than steel. The company Kopin in Taunton, Mass., is already applying the technique to semiconductors that they use to manufacture unusually efficient light-emitting diodes.

Narayan and Tiwari describe their work in the September Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

Many other scientists "will now investigate this approach" to make such orderly 3-D arrays of nanoparticles, comments William H. Butler, director of the Center for Materials for Information Technology at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Nanodots, which are particles made of only hundreds to thousands of atoms, can exhibit extraordinary properties compared with those of bulk materials. For instance, some nanodots of semiconductor materials, also called quantum dots, emit light of a color determined by the size of the clump (SN: 8/7/04, p. 94).

Many researchers have devised methods for making two-dimensional arrays of nanodots. …

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