My watch list
my.chemeurope.com  
Login  

Researchers examine 'living' nanomaterials for first time

New technology gives insight into how nanomaterials form and grow

01-Jul-2019

A new form of electron microscopy allows researchers to examine nanoscale tubular materials while they are "alive" and forming liquids -- a first in the field.

Developed by a multidisciplinary team at Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee, the new technique, called variable temperature liquid-phase transmission electron microscopy (VT-LPTEM), allows researchers to investigate these dynamic, sensitive materials with high resolution. With this information, researchers can better understand how nanomaterials grow, form and evolve.

"Until now, we could only look at 'dead,' static materials," said Northwestern's Nathan Gianneschi, who co-led the study. "This new technique allows us to examine dynamics directly -- something that could not be done before."

Gianneschi is the Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Professor of Chemistry in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, professor of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering, and associate director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology. He co-led the study with David Jenkins, associate professor of chemistry at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

After live-cell imaging became possible in the early 20th century, it revolutionized the field of biology. For the first time, scientists could watch living cells as they actively developed, migrated and performed vital functions. Before, researchers could only study dead, fixed cells. The technological leap provided critical insight into the nature and behavior of cells and tissues.

"We think LPTEM could do for nanoscience what live-cell light microscopy has done for biology," Gianneschi said.

LPTEM allows researchers to mix components and perform chemical reactions while watching them unfold beneath a transmission electron microscope.

In this work, Gianneschi, Jenkins and their teams studied metal-organic nanotubes (MONTs). A subclass of metal-organic frameworks, MONTs have high potential for use as nanowires in miniature electronic devices, nanoscale lasers, semiconductors and sensors for detecting cancer biomarkers and virus particles. MONTs, however, are little explored because the key to unlocking their potential lies in understanding how they are formed.

For the first time, the Northwestern and University of Tennessee team watched MONTs form with LPTEM and made the first measurements of finite bundles of MONTs on the nanometer scale.

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about Northwestern University
  • News

    Methane-consuming bacteria could be the future of fuel

    Known for their ability to remove methane from the environment and convert it into a usable fuel, methanotrophic bacteria have long fascinated researchers. But how, exactly, these bacteria naturally perform such a complex reaction has been a mystery. Now an interdisciplinary team at Northwe ... more

    Fluid-inspired material self-heals before your eyes

    It's hard to believe that a tiny crack could take down a gigantic metal structure. But sometimes bridges collapse, pipelines rupture and fuselages detach from airplanes due to hard-to-detect corrosion in tiny cracks, scratches and dents. A Northwestern University team has developed a new co ... more

    Unmasking corrosion to design better protective thin films for metals

    Corrosion is an age-old problem that is estimated to cost about $1 trillion a year, or about 5 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. Corrosion of metals can be particularly bad, but fortunately they are normally protected from catastrophic damage by naturally forming, super-thin oxide ... more

  • Videos

    Light-Powered 3-D Printer Prints Stent

    The 3-D printer in Cheng Sun’s lab allows researchers to fabricate materials that precisely fit their designs. It uses a photo-polymer in liquid form that coverts into a solid when light is applied. The material actually forms to the shape of the projected light, creating a 3-D structure. more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE