Jerusalem, Sept. 19, 2010 -- A new type of nanoparticle resembling the six-pointed Star of David (Magen David) that is the symbol on the flag of Israel has been discovered by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (One nanometer is a billionth of a meter.) The discovery, the researchers say, may lead to new ways for sensing of glucose in diagnosing diabetes or provide a catalyst to capture the sun's energy and turn it into clean fuel.
Their work, they further believe, greatly contributes to understanding how hybrid nanoparticles form. Hybrid nanoparticles are systems which combine two or more different materials on the same particle in which the combination provides multi-functionality to the particle. The discovery of the Hebrew University scientists is described in an article published now online and in the October 2010 issue of the journal Nature Materials.
The new Star of David shaped particles, with sizes 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, were discovered by the research group of Uri Banin, the Alfred and Erica Larisch Memorial Professor and the director of the Harvey M. Kruger Family Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the Hebrew University.
The researchers have been working to try and develop new nanoparticles made of two kinds of materials joined together. So far, scientists have only been aware of nanoparticles in which one material encapsulates the other (resembling an egg and a yolk), or where an island of one material forms on the other (much like the head of the match on a match-stick). This was not the case with the Star of David shapes.
Dr. Janet Macdonald, a postdoctoral fellow in Banin's group, worked on synthesizing nanoparticles combining copper sulfide, a common mineral with semiconducting properties, and ruthenium, a metal with exceptional chemical-catalytic properties. Instead of the expected ruthenium islands on the seed particles, what she saw in the pi
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The Hebrew University of Jerusalem