Gold nanoparticle breakthrough could change Earth crust mineral exploration

Using a new technique that corrects the distortions of x-ray beams, scientists can now "access the whole field of nanocrystal structures" under levels of pressure that exist deep inside the earth, according to Professor Ian Robinson of the London Centre for Nanotechnology.

Until now, focusing an image of nanocrystals under pressure using x-ray diffraction has proven difficult, but the new technique, which holds gold nanocrystals in a device called a Diamond-Anvil Cell (DAC), is analogous to putting on appropriately adjusted prescription glasses, said Robinson.

The development "has great potential for exploring the formation of minerals within the Earth's crust, which transform from one phase to another under pressure," and the technique is particularly promising for in-situ nanotechnology development under high pressures.

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Sources: Nature Communications; phys.org