A research undertaken by the University of Michigan and Northwestern University has led to the development of a new method to put together particles into colloidal crystals – a valuable substance used for biological and chemical sensing and light-detecting devices.
Employing this method, for the first time, the team has demonstrated crystals can be designed in methods not found in nature.
Leveraging the Advanced Photon Source at Office of Science of Argonne National Laboratory, at U.S. Department of Energy, the team confirmed their pivotal discovery.
Meanwhile, a strong X-ray beam allows high-resolution measurements that are required to investigate this type of assembly. The APS is best facility to carry out the research, remarked one of the research associates.
During the course of the study, the researchers discovered something basic about the system for making new substances. The strategy for fracturing symmetry rewrites the rules in place for the design and synthesis of materials.
The findings of the research is published in the journal Nature Materials.
Material-wise, colloidal crystals are extremely small particles with other smaller particles arranged inside them in ordered or symmetrical pattern. These crystals can be engineered for applications ranging from light sensors and lasers to computing and communications.
Importantly, in order to undertake the research, scientists attempted to crack natural symmetry of the nature, which tends to create an order for tiny particles in the most symmetrical way.
To understand this, imagine stacking basketballs in a box, stated one of the co-authors of the paper. This would involve each individuals to have a specific way of doing it to obtain maximum value from the space. This is how nature does it.