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Pizza the Puzzle

New approach for controlling nanostructures – potential for biomedical applications

19 January 2021

Pizza the Puzzle

Looking like a slice of pepperoni pizza, it’s not the toppings here, but what’s underneath this 20,000-times smaller triangular nanosheet of silver that counts. Pictured from above under a high-powered microscope, the glittering triangles are pulled towards the surface beneath by Van der Waals forces, the same molecular 'glue' which keeps a gecko’s foot stuck to a tree. But there are deliberate obstacles in the way – tiny nanospheres of iron oxide underneath cause the silver to bend and deform, producing circular bumps. Creating regular, predictable patterns is a dream of material scientists wanting to alter the properties of natural metals – this new technique might help create devices to refract light during biomedical imaging, or as ready-made catalysts, their tiny divots ideal places for drug compounds to react.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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