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Gizmorama - July 13, 2016

Good Morning,

Today's issue is very "nano" heavy. Nano scalpel, nanometer and nanoparticles. Oh, my!

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- 'Nano scalpel' allows scientists to manipulate materials with nanometer precision --*

BAYREUTH, Germany - For German researchers, the new Focused Ion Beam microscope serves as both magnifier and milling machine. The so-called nano scalpel allows researchers to precisely prepare samples for observation.

"The microscope is not only able to examine microscopic defects, cracks or point-like corrosion sites underneath the surfaces of materials, but also to machine the surface of samples with extremely high precision, on a nanometer scale," Maxim Bykov, a researcher from the University of Bayreuth, explained in a news release.

The ion beam is what gives the microscope its scalpel-like abilities. The team of scientists at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, or DESY, a German research center, say the multipurpose tool has a variety of scientific applications.

"Apart from examining the structure of materials, the ability of the ion beam to remove material also leads to a wide range of different applications," said Natalia Dubrovinskaia, a professor at Bayreuth.

Researchers employed their new device in a separate experiment involving tiny diamond anvils. High-pressure experiments at DESY's Extreme Conditions Beamline require the precise arrangement of diamond anvil cells.

Scientists have also used the FIS microscope to analyze chemical composition signatures by measuring fluorescent radiation.

"Together with the built-in milling machine, we can not only determine the three-dimensional structure, but also the distribution of the elements beneath the surface by alternately removing material and carrying out a chemical analysis, much like in 3D tomography," concluded Thomas Keller, head of microscopy and nano structuring at the DESY NanoLab.

*- Scientists use gold to grow nanoparticles in crystal formation -*

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a new method for growing nanoparticles. The application of gold in light-grown crystals allowed researchers new and improved control in the harvesting of nanoparticles.

Scientists say the breakthrough will make production of nanoparticles cheaper and more efficient for use in the production of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and solar panels.

Materials scientists have been growing nanoparticles in light-grown crystal formations for several years using a technique called plasmon-driven synthesis. The process is imprecise, however, unless scientists introduce silver to the synthesis process. Unfortunately, silver can't be used in medical applications.

For the first time, researchers showed gold can work as a substitute for silver in plasmon-driven synthesis. The use of gold not only made synthesized nanoparticles safe for use in the human body, it also offered scientists new insight into the plasmon-driven synthesis process.

"How does light actually play a role in the synthesis? [This knowledge] was not well developed," lead researcher David Wei, an associate professor of chemistry at Florida, said in a news release. "Gold was the model system to demonstrate this."

Scientists observed polyvinylpyrrolidone, or PVP, facilitating the travel of light-energized "hot" electrons to gold surfaces where they generated the growth of crystal nanoparticles -- specifically, gold nanoprisms.

A few qualities make gold an ideal nanoparticle material, especially for use in the body -- it's malleable, conducts heat and doesn't react with oxygen.

Wei believes the nanoparticles and their augmented synthesis process could be used in photovoltaic devices to harvest the sun's energy for chemical synthesis. The nanoparticles and synthesis technique could also be used to generate new nanomaterials.

But Wei is most interested in the discovery's biomedical applications. He believes it could be used to bolster photothermal therapeutics, a promising cancer therapy.

The new research was published this week in the journal Nature Materials.


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