Nanoparticle self-assembly model offers hope for improved IT, tissue engineering in future

April 8th, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 8 (ANI): A researcher of Indian origin at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is working in collaboration with scientists at Carnegie Mellon University to improve technologies used in tissue engineering and information technology.

Engineering Professor Pushpendra Singh, an alumnus of IIT-Delhi, and Nadine Aubry, head of Carnegie Mellons Mechanical Engineering Department, have devised a method to herd nanoparticles into highly ordered two-dimensional lattices (monolayers) with adjustable spacing between the particles.

Describing their research in the online journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said that their work showed how the use of electric fields and fluid- fluid interfaces could be used judiciously to develop new materials with special properties to increase the efficiency of drug delivery patches, solar cells and the next generation of high-performance computing.

This new manufacturing strategy could revolutionize the way we design two-dimensional nanomaterials with adaptable microscopic structures and desired properties, said Aubry, who was recently named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her outstanding contributions to the field of fluid dynamics.

The researcher duo has discovered that the distribution of particles, particularly uncharged particles, can be controlled at a fluid-fluid interface by applying an electric field, without which particles self assemble.

However, the particles self assemble under capillary action, which caused them to attract one another at the free surface of a liquid.

The researchers noted that the self-assembly via capillary action had serious flaws, including an inability to manipulate small-sized particles and adjust the porosity of the resulting material.

There were also inherent defects in the particle patterns, they said.

What is fascinating, is that the presence of an electric field can remedy all these deficiencies. The key is that when we apply the electric field, we can expand or shrink the lattice, and we can do it dynamically. The explanation is all in the subtle interplay between the forces both electrostatic and hydrodynamic acting on the particles, Aubry said.

The researchers demonstrated that their new technique created forces capable of assembling micron-sized particles, and theoretically predicts that the method should apply to nanoparticles as well.

We are extremely excited about the new self-assembly method because it offers flexibility, precision and simplicity, Aubry said. (ANI)

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