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Thursday, 18 August 2011

Researchers Find Way To Align Gold Nanorods On A Large Scale

North Carolina State University
Aug 17, 2011

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a simple, scalable way to align gold nanorods, particles with optical properties that could be used for emerging biomedical imaging technologies.

Aligning gold nanorods is important because they respond to light differently, depending on the direction in which the nanorods are pointed. To control the optical response of the nanorods, researchers want to ensure that all of the nanorods are aligned.

The NC State researchers developed a way to align the gold nanorods using electrospun polymer “nano/microfibers.” Electrospinning is a way of producing fibers, with a liquid polymer being discharged from a needle and then solidifying. The researchers produced fibers as thin as 40 nanometers (nm) in diameter and as thick as three microns in diameter – thus, nano/microfibers.

The researchers mixed the gold nanorods into the polymer solution, causing them to be incorporated directly into the polymer. The nanorods align when the fibers form. The force experienced by the liquid polymer as it is emitted from the electrospinning needle creates “streamlines” in the polymer solution.

“The nanorods are forced into alignment with these streamlines, like logs in a river that swing into alignment with the current,” says Dr. Joe Tracy, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the study. “And as the polymer solidifies, the aligned nanorods are locked into place.”

“Electrospinning efforts at NC State are world-class and have yielded a wide range of novel and functional materials,” adds Dr. Rich Spontak, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and materials science and engineering at NC State and paper co-author. “What makes this result truly exciting is that the alignment is multiscale, or simultaneously achieved at different length scales. The nanorods are aligned at nanoscale dimensions, whereas the fibers are aligned at larger length scales.”
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