Women in Nanoscience


Women in Nano Blog

Miaofang Chi and Karren More develop a new way to watch nanoparticles rearrange in real-time

Posted on January 1, 2016 at 6:25 PM

Karren More and lead author Miaofang Chi and co-workers at Oak Ridge National Labs are developing new techniques to allow them to image nanoparticles that could lead to emission-free fuel cell technologies. Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, the ORNL researchers are looking to make these materials cheaper and higher performing. Their recent paper in Nature Communications shows a new ability to watch, in real time, molecular rearrangements of the catalyst nanoparticles as they are heated (annealed).


Dr. Chi commented on the value of this new approach: "You can anneal something from room temperature to 800°C, but you don't know at which point you should stop the process to ensure the best catalytic performance. Because you don't know how the particle evolves, you might be missing the optimum surface configuration."

(Schematic showing the effect of temperature on nanoparticles as they are warmed. At cool temperatures, gold and platinum form a random alloy and form a fully ordered structure at an optimum temperature as shown in the 4th nanonparticle from the left.)

- Written by Paulette Clancy

(Photo credit: Used with permission, credit to: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy. Photo by ORNL’s Jason Richards; Illustration: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy. Illustration by ORNL’s Andy Sproles).

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