Scientists at The University of Nottingham have made a major breakthrough that could help shape the future of nanotechnology, by demonstrating for the first time that 3-D molecular structures can be built on a surface.
The discovery could prove a significant step forward towards the development of new nano devices such as cutting-edge optical and electronic technologies and even molecular computers.
In a paper published in the prestigious journal Nature Chemistry, the team of chemists and physicists at Nottingham have shown that by introducing a ‘guest’ molecule they can build molecules upwards from a surface rather than just 2-D formations previously achieved.
A natural biological process known as ‘self-assembly’ meant that once the scientists introduced other molecules on to a surface their host then spontaneously arranged them into a rational 3-D structure.
Professor Neil Champness said: “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.
“Until now this has only been achievable in 2-D, 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.”
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