Dr. Allen Apblett’s crystals look like artwork and represent new uses for nanotechnology.

A type of artwork has emerged from the research of Dr. Allen Apblett and two graduate students at Oklahoma State University and it’s attracting global attention on the cover of a noted scientific journal. What appears to be a drawing of a chicken and German crosses are the focus of a cover story in the latest edition of CrystEngComm and proof of Apblett’s progress for producing the tiniest of crystals for new uses in the growing field of nanotechnology. 

“We made materials that resemble German crosses and what we call a ‘micro chicken’ by varying the concentrations of reactants we use in a new process to produce nanocrystals of a mineral called lead molybdate,” said Apblett.  “The same process can be fine-tuned for extensive applications and uses in optical, electronic and sensor devices and as catalysts for chemical reactions used in the preparation of petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and water purification.”

The nanocrystal building blocks, which resulted in the unusual magazine cover designs, are more than 2,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, according to Apblett. They were photographed as black and white images called electron micrographs using OSU’s electron microscopes. 

Nanocrystals and nanoparticles are important because they allow scientists to do things not possible with the larger particles, explained Apblett.  “For instance, gold nanoparticles are often red in color and not gold like their larger counterparts. This color difference shows that the electronic properties have changed, making gold nanoparticles useful sensing materials and as catalysts. Unfortunately, lead molybdate doesn’t show a remarkable color change, but in its nanocrystalline form, it does display extremely useful catalytic, optical, and electronic properties.”

Apblett, professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at OSU, is working with graduate student Cory Perkins on this process that was also investigated by OSU alumnus Dr. Kevin Barber. Their research article appears in the April 14, 2014 edition of CrystEngComm, which is published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, based in Great Britain.

Read more https://news.okstate.edu/press-releases/2672-researchers-progress-makes-artistic-journal-cover-story-


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