Nanoparticles May Create Entirely New Engineering Materials

A team of University of Michigan researchers are experimenting with 145 differently shaped nanoparticles in an attempt to create new materials that can be engineered on the smallest level. 

What's the Latest Development?


Using computer simulations, University of Michigan researchers are experimenting with differently shaped nanoparticles in an attempt to determine how they naturally form patterns and possibly create entirely new materials. "Some of the shapes assembled into regular crystals—lattices in which each particle has a fixed position and orientation—and some formed plastic crystals or liquid crystals. In a plastic crystal, each particle has a fixed position within the lattice but can rotate; a liquid crystal, on the other hand, contains particles with correlated orientations but fungible positions."

What's the Big Idea?

The team is exploring 145 distinct polyhedral shapes, which are three-dimensional structures formed by a series of planar faces. Sharon Glotzer, a Michigan professor of chemical engineering, materials science and physics, said the goal of the project is to design entirely new materials. "We want new stuff, better stuff," she said. The new materials could be used in nano-sized engineering projects to create super-strong, super-efficient materials at a microscopic level. Glotzer concluded by saying: "This is sort of a holy grail of materials research, to just look at a building block and be able to say, 'Oh yes, I know all of the kinds of crystal structure that would be stable with this."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

This 1997 Jeff Bezos interview proves he saw the future coming

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, explains his plan for success.

Technology & Innovation
  • Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for Amazon.com from the start.
  • He was inspired by a statistic he learned while working at a hedge fund: In the '90s, web usage was growing at 2,300% a year.
  • Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less