Science 2 min read

Scientists use Revolutionary Technique to Reduce Car Emissions

A joint research team has successfully managed to create a biological technique to map the topography of metals at the nano-scale. At a minimum, this breakthrough could lead to new low-emission solutions for engines and advances in battery storage capabilities.

This new biological imaging technique could revolutionize the way scientists develop catalysts for reducing car emissions. | Image By All About Space | Shutterstock

This new biological imaging technique could revolutionize the way scientists develop catalysts for reducing car emissions. | Image By All About Space | Shutterstock

A team composed of researchers from the University of Manchester, Oxford, and Macquarie University claimed to have used a biological technique on a mixture of metals. This is the first time that this form of single particle reconstruction was utilized on metals and the result is astounding.

By using the technique that won Joachim Frank, Richard Henderson, and Jacques Dubochet the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry, the researchers were able to unveil the atomic scale chemistry of metal nanoparticles.

The nanoparticles produced during the experiment have star-shaped geometries with edges containing different chemistries. The discovery opens the door for the creation of materials that would serve as ideal catalysts for energy converting systems.

According to the researchers, the chemistries could significantly reduce the cost of batteries and catalytic converters and lessen the harmful emissions from vehicles.

Using the Biological Technique to map Elements

Using this biological technique, the researchers now have the ability to 3D map different elements at the nanometer scale without damaging them.

Many catalysts today have metal nanoparticles as their key components. And, most of these catalysts’ efficiency rely upon the structure of their metal nanoparticles.

To image these ultra-tiny structures, scientists have to use powerful microscopes. Up until now, imaging metal nanoparticles was limited to 2D projections.

We have been investigating the use of tomography in the electron microscope to map elemental distributions in three dimensions for some time.” Sarah Haigh, a professor at the University of Manchester’s School of Materials, said.

Biologists use a different approach for 3D imaging, and we decided to explore whether this could be used together with spectroscopic techniques to map the different elements inside the nanoparticles.”

At the moment, Haigh and her team have only tested their 3D chemical imaging method on Platinum-Nickel (Pt-Ni) metal nanoparticles. They are now hoping to automate the 3D reconstruction process of metal nanoparticles in the future.

We hope it can provide a fast and reliable method of imaging nanoparticle populations which is urgently needed to speed up optimization of nanoparticle synthesis for wide-ranging applications including biomedical sensing, light emitting diodes and solar cells,” Thomas Slater, co-author of the study published in the journal Nano Letters, said.

Read More: New Low-Emission Tech Could Bridge the Renewable Energy Gap

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Rechelle is an SEO content producer, technical writer, researcher, social media manager, and visual artist. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with family and friends.

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