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3D molecular structures built on a surface for first time


November 25, 2010

A diagram of the Carbon-60 buckyball guest molecule, with a second layer of host molecules formed around it (Image: Neil Champness)

A diagram of the Carbon-60 buckyball guest molecule, with a second layer of host molecules formed around it (Image: Neil Champness)

In a milestone for nanotechnology, scientists have built three-dimensional molecular structures on a surface for the first time ever. Previously, it had only been possible to create two-dimensional structures in this way. The research team from the University of Nottingham believe that the technique will boost the development of new optical, electronic and molecular computing technologies.

The 3D structures were created utilizing a natural biological process known as self-assembly. The Nottingham team introduced a spherical Carbon-60 “guest” molecule onto a surface patterned by a two-dimensional array of tetracarboxylic acid "host" molecules. The host molecules were drawn to the guest, and formed a horizontal layer around it, parallel to the surface.

“It is the molecular equivalent of throwing a pile of bricks up into the air and then as they come down again they spontaneously build a house,” said Prof. Neil Champness. “Until now this has only been achievable in 2D, so to continue the analogy, the molecular ‘bricks’ would only form a path or a patio but our breakthrough now means that we can start to build in the third dimension. It’s a significant step forward to nanotechnology.”

Champness and his colleague Prof. Peter Beton have spent the past four years working on this project. Their research was recently published in the journal Nature Chemistry.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth
1 Comment

And I\'ll huff and I\'ll puff and I\'ll build your house up! Way to go guys!

Will, the tink
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