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New method to probe particles smaller than a billionth of a meter developed by Japanese scientists

Press Release

A new method to examine the chemical structure and in general the structure of metal particles with diameters between 0.5 and 2 nanometers is the one developed by a team of scientists from the Tokyo Tech Institute of Technology. Remember that a nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or one millionth of a millimeter.

Such a technique, defined as a turning point in nanoscience, could allow the development and in general the application of nanoscopic materials in electronics and nanotechnology but also in chemistry and biomedicine, not to mention the possible uses at the moment still unpredictable.

But why metal nanoparticles? The fact is that they are very interesting at the moment because they allow a myriad of potential applications. For example, it is possible to create metal nanocrystals, particles called “subnano clusters” (CNS), particles that are not yet easily detectable except with a method called Raman spectroscopy. The latter is based on the irradiation of a sample with a laser and then analyzes the resulting light spectra so that the molecular footprint and in general a profile of the sample itself can be reconstructed.

Unfortunately, this technique cannot yet be authorized for the CNS because it is not so sensitive. Precisely for this reason the researchers at Tokyo Tech have developed a new approach called “Raman spectroscopy with improved surface” which is based on the use of gold and/or silver nanoparticles included in a thin silica shell to increase sensitivity.

Kimihisa Yamamoto, one of the researchers involved in this study, explains this new technique as follows: “This spectroscopic technique selectively generates Raman signals of substances found in the immediate vicinity of the surface of optical amplifiers. The detailed understanding of the physical and chemical nature of substances facilitates the rational design of subnanomaterials for practical applications. Highly sensitive spectroscopic methods will accelerate material innovation and promote subnanoscience as an interdisciplinary research field.”

Martin Hill