Researchers watch nanoparticles self-assemble for the very first time
2013-04-25 0:00

By George Dvorsky | io9

Itís not quite the T-1000 pulling itself together after being blown apart, but itís 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, youíd 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. Thatís roughly one nanometer.

Thatís mighty, mighty tiny ó so tiny in fact that the researchers at the U.S. Department of Energyís (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 ďhydratedĒ electrons attracted the positively charged nanoparticles ó 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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