Nanotechnologists envision using tiny structures to create ultrastrong materials and to build memory chips that store entire libraries. But these visions require making matter behave in exceptionally orderly ways.
Now, materials scientists Jagdish Narayan and Ashutosh Tiwari of North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh have induced tiny particles, or nanodots, of nickel to spontaneously assemble into exceptionally uniform, three-dimensional arrays of macroscopic size.
With this method, they've also created blends of copper nanodots and tin that they say are harder than steel. The company Kopin in Taunton, Mass., is already applying the technique to semiconductors that th