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Northwestern University
Up close image of nano particles in geometric pattern using yellow and black colorsleft

Crystalline Complexity

Materials that can change colors and patterns on command. Objects that can control light by blocking specific wavelengths. New kinds of lenses, lasers and even Star Trek-like cloaking materials.

These are just some of the applications that could result from new complex nanoparticle crystals developed by Northwestern nanoscientist Chad Mirkin, director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology, and Sharon Glotzer of the University of Michigan.

To create the crystals, the researchers harnessed the chemistry of DNA and combined it with nanoparticles whose shapes encourage a cage-like crystal structure called a clathrate. The result is the most complex crystal ever designed and built out of nanoparticles.

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