When University of Pennsylvania nanoscientists created beautiful, tiled patterns with flat nanocrystals, they were left with a mystery: why did some sets of crystals arrange themselves in an alternating, herringbone style, even though it wasn’t the simplest pattern? To find out, they turned to experts in computer simulation at the University of Michigan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The result gives nanotechnology researchers a new tool for controlling how objects one-millionth the size of a grain of sand arrange themselves into useful materials, it gives a means to discover the rules for “programming” them into desired configurations.
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