New forms of matter discovered that do not exist in nature

A research team led by Northwestern University has developed a new method for assembling particles into

colloidal crystals are a valuable type of material used for chemical and biological sensing, as well as light detection devices.

Using these methods, the team proved for the first time thatthat crystals create in ways that are not found in nature. The authors used an advanced photon source (APS) to confirm their discovery.

The powerful X-ray beam allows high-resolution measurements, which is essential to study our approach.

Bendu Lee, Argonne National Laboratory

Colloidal crystals are very small particlesnanoparticles inside: they are arranged in an ordered or symmetrical manner. Crystals can be created for a variety of purposes, ranging from light sensors and lasers to communications and computing, for example.

The authors of the work tried to break the natural symmetry created by nature:

Imagine you are putting basketballs into a box. You have a certain way to make it as optimal as possible. That's how nature works.

Bengdu Lee, Argonne National Laboratory

Bengdu Lee, Argonne National Laboratory

But, if the balls are slightly blown away, then you can fold them differently. The research team, Li said, is trying to do the same with nanomaterials by teaching them different ways to assemble.

This approach laid the foundation for the creation of three,never before synthesized crystalline phases. One of the phases has never been found in nature. The team used ultra-bright X-rays from the APS to confirm that their structure had changed.

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