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September 12th

Gold nanoparticles turn mirrors into windows at the touch of a switch

  • Science
  • Nanotechnology

Cosmos – Sheets of glass that can flip between being windows and mirrors at the tap of an app are a step nearer following research by scientists at Imperial College London and published in the journal Nature Materials.

Joshua Edel and colleagues report successfully creating a single layer of gold nanoparticles in which each particle is exactly equidistant from its neighbours – a feat made challenging because of the minute scales involved. Each particle is only tens of nanometres in size.

Edel’s team successfully created the layer by forcing the particles to gather at the intersection of two liquids that do not intermix. By passing a small electrical current through the layer, the particles could be induced to either form a dense concentration or disperse – resulting in either transparency or opacity.

“It’s a really fine balance,” explains Edel. “For a long time we could only get the nanoparticles to clump together when they assembled, rather than being accurately spaced out.

“But many models and experiments have brought us to the point where we can create a truly tuneable layer.”

Read more at Cosmos.

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