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SQI: Simpson Querry Institute

Electron-like nanoparticles challenge current understanding of matter

Northwestern University researchers led by Center for Bio-Inspired Science (CBES) investigators Monica Olvera de la Cruz and Chad Mirkin have made a discovery that may upend the current notion of matter. They found that tiny nanoparticles engineered with DNA in colloidal crystals act just like electrons — opening a pathway to design new materials.

“This is going to get people to think about matter in a new way,” Mirkin said. “It’s going to lead to all sorts of materials that have potentially spectacular properties that have never been observed before. Properties that could lead to a variety of new technologies in the fields of optics, electronics and even catalysis.” 

Mirkin led the experimental work and Olvera de la Cruz spearheaded the computational work in which the electron-like behavior was first observed. Their findings were published online June 21 in Science and featured in a Northwestern Now article.

CBES is one of three research centers within the Simpson Querrey Institute.