It’s not quite the T-1000 pulling itself together after being blown apart, but it’s pretty much the same idea. For the first time in history, scientists have observed the self-assembly of nanoparticles in real-time.
Each of the particles seen in the video above measures a scant 12 nanometers across. To put that in perspective, you’d have to divide the thin side of a dime by a thousand, and then take one of those slivers and divide it by a thousand again. That’s roughly one nanometer.
That’s mighty, mighty tiny — so tiny in fact that the researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory had to use a transmission electron microscope located at the Center for Nanoscale Materials to capture the quick movement of the nanoparticles.
To get the tiny bits to re-assemble, the researchers put the gold nanoparticles into a small liquid pouch and covered it with a positively charged coating. When it was exposed to an intense beam of electrons, an effect was created where “hydrated” electrons attracted the positively charged nanoparticles — but it was an effect that was gradually reduced over time. Once freed from these forces, the nanoparticles were able to jump around and stick together in long chains.
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