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Current Affairs

Method to make colloidal diamonds

Date: 29 September 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers have devised a new process for the reliable self-assembly of colloids in a diamond formation that could lead to cheap, scalable fabrication of such structures.

 

Background

The colloidal diamond could make light waves as useful as electrons in computing, and hold promise for a host of other applications.

 

Details

  • While the idea of colloidal diamonds was developed decades ago, no one was able to reliably produce the structures.

  • The discovery could open the door to highly efficient optical circuits leading to advances in optical computers and lasers, light filters that are more reliable and cheaper to produce than ever before, and much more.

  • These materials, made up of spheres hundreds of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, can be arranged in different crystalline shapes depending on how the spheres are linked to one another.

  • Each colloid attaches to another using strands of DNA glued to surfaces of the colloids that function as a kind of molecular Velcro.

  • When colloids collide with each other in a liquid bath, the DNA snags and the colloids are linked. Depending on where the DNA is attached to the colloid, they can spontaneously create complex structures.

  • Researchers discovered that they could use a steric interlock mechanism that would spontaneously produce the necessary staggered bonds to make this structure possible.

  • When these pyramidal colloids approached each other, they linked in the necessary orientation to generate a diamond formation.

  • Rather than going through the painstaking and expensive process of building these structures through the use of nano-machines, this mechanism allows the colloids to structure themselves without the need for outside interference.

  • Furthermore, the diamond structures are stable, even when the liquid they form in is removed.

  • The potential future advances include applications for high-efficiency lasers with reduced weight and energy demands for precision sensors and directed energy systems.