Nanoscale Modeling and Simulation
"Small is different." That's how Georgia Tech School of Physics Professor Uzi Landman recently summed up nanomaterials' diverse characteristics at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It's also why Landman, the director of Georgia Tech's Center for Computational Materials Science, uses computer simulation to study nanomaterials 50,000 times smaller than the width of a single strand of human hair.
Simulations like the ones Landman has spent years developing allow scientists to dig deeper into the mysterious character of nanomaterials. Landman's research group, which studies the properties of nanometer-sized gold particles, has already discovered novel characteristics about the catalytic abilities of nanomaterials and the maintenance of stable-flow liquid on a nanoscale. In collaboration with Landman's computational theory group, teams of engineers are building nozzles that can produce jets in the one-hundred-nanometer range. By 2006, according to Landman, they expect to produce "nanojets" in the ten-nanometer range that in the future could be used for injecting genes into cells or operate as fuel injectors for tiny engines.
Other researchers are using different imaging techniques to develop the gold standard of nanoscience and nanotechnology research at Georgia Tech and gaining national recognition in the process. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory University was awarded a four-year National Institutes of Health $2.4 million grant to develop novel in-vivo cellular imaging techniques based on quantum dot silver and gold atom nanoclusters. Using the nanomaterials, researchers will create structures recognized by biological molecules that can bind to them. They will also develop techniques for getting the probes into living cells to take advantage of the unique properties of nanometer-scale structures.
As scientists discover the keys to unlocking the mysteries of nanoparticles, Georgia Tech nanoscience and nanotechnology researchers increasingly rely on multidisciplinary approaches, linking technologies together for more comprehensive research.