Researchers report series of nanotechnology breakthroughs

01 August 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

A number of significant advances have been made in the field of nanotechnology, according to scientists, including more efficient solar technology, the ability to measure nano electrical charges and a better understanding of buckyballs.

Researchers from the National Science Foundation and Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory announced they have solved a 25-year mystery in the field - how buckyballs (buckminsterfullerenes) are formed.

The self-assembly caged-carbon molecules are central to nanotechnology and the findings could provide significant insights into the origin of space fullerenes in the universe.

Buckyballs represent an iconic image for chemistry and have fascinating properties, but grow rapidly, making them difficult to analyze fully.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications, with the scientists writing that carbon cages remain closed throughout the growing process to lock atoms inside.

In a further development in the field of nanoscience, University of Toronto and King Abdullah University of Science & Technology researchers claim to have developed the most efficient colloidal quantum dot (CQD) films for solar cells ever, recording efficiency rates of seven per cent.

Writing in a letter to Nature Nanotechnology, the experts stated their breakthrough combined organic and inorganic chemistry in order to cover all exposed surfaces of the nanoparticles in the film to boost efficiency by 37 per cent.

Alex Ip, Lead Co-Author of the study, explained: "By introducing small chlorine atoms immediately after synthesizing the dots, we're able to patch the previously unreachable nooks and crannies that lead to electron traps."

Finally, University of Zurich scientists revealed they have managed to measure the electrostatic charge of nanoparticles, using a new method that could enhance the future manufacture of pharmaceuticals.

An electrostatic trap was used to observe particles in a solution and measure movements in order to determine the charge of each individual particle.

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