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Scientists Develop a Method for Studying the Structure of Self-Organizing Materials

This new method can take 3D micro- and nano-printers to a new level

by Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
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Professor Anatoliy Snigirev.Professor Anatoliy Snigirev. Credit: Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

An international group of scientists, including Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (IKBFU) professor Anatoliy Snigirev, has published an article that proposes a new method for studying the structure of complexly organized materials of both artificial and natural origin. The article was published by the Journal of Applied Crystallography.

"After the discovery of X-ray radiation, it became possible to study the structure of natural crystals, because the wavelength of the X-ray beam is proportional to the interatomic distance of rigid bodies," Snigirev said. "But there are many self-organizing three-dimensional materials—both of natural and artificial origin, which are difficult to study using X-rays, since the distance between trace elements—"atoms" is 100 and 1000 times greater. In the published work, we proposed using special X-ray lenses to study such structures, which, refracting the light in a certain way, make it possible to see the diffraction pattern, and based on it draw a conclusion about the internal structure of the material "

It should be clarified that Snigirev, together with his colleagues, developed X-ray lenses back in 1996. But they could only become truly effective recently, when powerful third-generation synchrotrons (resonant cyclic electron accelerators that move in a circular orbit) appeared with which they can be used.

Related Article: Scientists Develop Way to Identify Topological Materials

According to the scientist, the possibility of a thorough study of self-organizing materials can revolutionize many industries.

As for the scope of self-organizing structures, it is incredibly wide. And the hopes for these materials are very high. For example, it is assumed that photonic crystals grown by humans, replacing silicon, will revolutionize electronics by making a variety of optoelectronic devices and, in particular, computers, many times faster and more powerful.

The method of studying self-organizing materials proposed by scientists can be useful to biologists studying the structure of tissues of living organisms—for example, corals or insect shells.

According to Snigirev, a team of scientists representing different fields of knowledge that has developed a new method for studying self-organizing materials, has been involved in a large-scale project to create a new fourth-generation synchrotron. This project, called SKIF, will be implemented in Novosibirsk.