A team of researchers has made a major breakthrough in measuring the structure of nanomaterials under extremely high pressures. For the first time, they developed a way to get around the severe distortions of high-energy X-ray beams that are used to image the structure of a gold nanocrystal. The technique, described in April 9, 2013, issue of Nature Communications, could lead to advancements of new nanomaterials created under high pressures and a greater understanding of what is happening in planetary interiors.
Lead author of the study, Wenge Yang of the Carnegie Institution’s High Pressure Synergetic Consortium explained: “The only way to see what happens to such samples when under pressure is to use high-energy X-rays produced by synchrotron sources. Synchrotrons can provide highly coherent X-rays for advanced 3-D imaging with tens of nanometers of resolution. This is different from incoherent X-ray imaging used for medical examination that has micron spatial resolution. The high pressures fundamentally change many properties of the material.”