One way to construct materials atom by atom
is to conscript machinery nature has already devised.
Scientists have methods of making round particles that are as small
as one nanometer, which is the span of 10 hydrogen atoms. But making more
complicated shapes is more difficult.
Researchers from the University of Bristol in England, Vanderbilt
University, and the University of Maryland have found that they can fill
or coat a long, cylindrical tobacco virus with metal particles.
The method could eventually be used to manufacture structures like
metal nanowires that could be used in electronics or optics devices, according
to the researchers.
The researchers mixed the 4- by 300-nanometer virus with gold, silver and
platinum salts. In an acidic pH solution, negatively-charged metal salts
reacted with viral amino acids to cause nanoparticles to align on the outer
surface of the virus. In a neutral pH solution, positively-charged salts
passed through the viruses' protein coats, causing metal nanoparticles to
align inside the viruses.
The researchers showed that mutating the amino acids affects where
the metal particles deposit.
The method to be used practically in 10 to 20 years, according to
the researchers. The work appeared in the March 12, 2003 issue of Nano Letters.
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Net scan finds like-minded
Sound forms virtual
Touchy-feely goes remote
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Metal expands electrically
fill virus with metal
Gold connectors stretch
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