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Nanoscale Necklaces

photo - nanoscale necklace structure
Photo: Zhiqun Lin

Researchers have developed a technique for crafting nanometer-scale necklaces based on tiny star-like structures threaded onto a polymeric backbone. The technique could provide a new way to produce hybrid organic-inorganic shish kebab structures from semiconducting, magnetic, ferroelectric, and other materials that may provide useful nanoscale properties.

The template-based process grows amphiphilic worm-like diblock copolymers through a living polymerization technique in which the polymeric structures serve as nanoreactors that form laterally connecting nanocrystalline structures based on a variety of precursor materials. The nanodisks average about 10 nanometers in diameter and four nanometers in thickness, and are about two nanometers apart.

“Our goal was to develop an unconventional, yet robust, strategy for making a large variety of organic-inorganic hybrid shish kebabs,” said Zhiqun Lin, a professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech. “This is a general technique for making these unusual structures. Now that we have demonstrated it, we believe there is a nearly endless list of materials we can use to craft these nano-necklaces.”

The research was reported in the journal Science Advances, a new member of the Science journal family. The work was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation. — JOHN TOON

ipad cover issue 3 2015

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