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Scientists Make Nanostructrures Self-Assemble

Published on 2002-03-27. Author : SpecialChem

Princeton University researchers have created ultra-small plastic structures with a method that is cheaper and more versatile than previous techniques. The discovery has yielded surprising insights into the behavior of materials at very small scales, while spawning many basic research questions.

It also could pave the way to a new generation of miniature products, from computer memory chips and video components to devices for sorting DNA molecules.

Professor of electrical engineering Stephen Chou and graduate student Larry Zhuang found that they could coax a flat sheet of plastic resin to assemble itself into a minute, perfectly ordered array of pillars - with remarkably little specialized equipment. The pillars are a little more than half a micron (a millionth of a meter) in height and width. Viewing one of these pillars next to the head of a pin is like looking at a stack of quarters next to the dome of the U.S. Capitol building.

Chou expects that refinements of the technique will yield even smaller structures.


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