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NUANCE: Nanoscale Characterization Experimental Center

Northwestern Team Developing "Ultimate Discovery Tool"

Northwestern professor, Chad A. Mirkin and a Northwestern research team are developing a tool to rapidly test millions, even billions or more different nanoparticles at one time to zero in on the best particle for a specific use.

"Screening a million potentially useful nanoparticles, for example, could take several lifetimes,” said Mirkin. “Our tool will enable researchers to pick the winner much faster than conventional methods. We have the ultimate discovery tool."

To help analyze the complex elemental compositions and size/shape of the nanoparticles down to the sub-nanometer scale, the team turned to Vinayak P. Dravid, Mirkin's longtime friend and collaborator. Dravid, founding director of Northwestern's NUANCE Center, contributed his expertise and the advanced electron microscopes of NUANCE to spatially map the compositional trajectories of the combinatorial nanoparticles.

"I liken our combinatorial nanopatterning approach to providing a broad palette of bold colors to an artist who previously had been working with a handful of dull and pale black, white and grey pastels," said Dravid.

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discovery tool

Photo Credit: Peng-Cheng Chen/James Hedrick