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January 4th, 2005
Finding the art behind the science of nanocrystal synthesis
Enter the office of Argonne physicist Zhili Xiao, and you might feel as though you’ve set foot in the studio of an accomplished artist.
Numerous images of tubes, wires, and dots arranged in perfectly symmetrical patterns hang over his computer like paintings. On his bookshelf rests a set of large-ringed binders, which, like photo albums, contain dozens of pictures of tripods, brushes and other three-dimensional crystals on a scale 100,000 times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.
Researchers like Xiao are now beginning to understand the science behind the art of making nanocrystals. His scientific team, a joint effort in the Material Sciences Division at Argonne and the Physics Department of Northern, has figured out the basics of using electricity to control the shape of nanostructures. Their findings provide a practical method of generating large quantities of these particles for use in electronic, optic and superconducting applications.
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