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Dec 13, 2019

Scientists explain why some molecules spontaneously arrange themselves into five slices of nanoscale pie

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nanotechnology

Materials formed on vanishingly small scales are being used in medicine, electronics, manufacturing and a host of other applications. But scientists have only scratched the surface of understanding how to control building blocks on the nanoscale, where simple machines the size of a virus operate.

Now, a team of researchers led by Dongsheng Li, a materials scientist at PNNL, and collaborators at the University of Michigan and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have unlocked the secret to one of the most useful nanostructures: the five-fold twin. Their study describing why and how this shape forms is detailed in the journal Science and was presented at the Materials Research Society annual meeting on December 5, 2019.

A cross section of a five-fold twin structure looks for all the world like a pie sliced into five perfectly symmetrical pieces. Nanomaterials with this structure have already been shown to have useful properties and are deployed in for precisely tagging cancerous tumors for imaging and tracking, and in electronics, where they are valued for their mechanical strength.

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