Nanoparticles Used to Trap Oil Drops

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Rice University researchers have found a new way to spontaneously assemble nanoparticles into bag-like sacs. Their 'nanobatons' could be used to clean up oil spills by trapping oil droplets in polluted waters. These nanoparticles could even be more useful for delivering drugs. The researchers found that 'ultraviolet light and magnetic fields could be used to flip the nanoparticles, causing the bags to instantly turn inside out and release their cargo — a feature that could ultimately be handy for delivering drugs.' This is still a lab project and it's hard to know when real applications could appear.

The tiny, stick-shaped particles of metal and carbon can trap oil droplets in water by spontaneously assembling into bag-like sacs."

This research project has been led by Pulickel Ajayan, Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Rice University. He worked with several members of his research group, including graduate student Fung Suong Ou and postdoctoral researcher Shaijumon Manikoth.

Here is a comment of Ajayan about this technology. "The core of the nanotechnology revolution lies in designing inorganic nanoparticles that can self-assemble into larger structures like a 'smart dust' that performs different functions in the world — for example, cleaning up pollution. Our approach brings the concept of self-assembling, functional nanomaterials one step closer to reality."


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