Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Crystal system


Crystallization of noble metal atoms usually leads to the highly symmetric face-centred cubic phase that represents the thermodynamically stable structure. Introducing defective microstructures into a metal crystal lattice may induce distortions to form non-face-centered cubic phases when the lateral dimensions of objects decrease down to nanometre scale. However, stable non-face-centered cubic phases have not been reported in noble metal nanoparticles. Here we report that a stable body-centred tetragonal phase is observed in silver nanoparticles with fivefold twinning even at ambient conditions. The body-centered tetragonal phase originates from the distortion of cubic silver lattices due to internal strains in the twinned nanoparticles. The lattice distortion in the centre of such a nanoparticle is larger than that in the surfaces, indicating that the nanoparticle is composed of a highly strained core encapsulated in a less-strained sheath that helps stabilize the strained core.

Concepts: Crystal, Crystallography, Nanomaterials, Gold, Crystal system, Atomic packing factor, Reciprocal lattice, Diamond cubic


We report a simple method to fabricate nano-porous tantalum oxide films via anodization with Ta foils as the anode at room temperature. A mixture of ethylene glycol, phosphoric acid, NH4F and H2O was used as the electrolyte where the nano-porous tantalum oxide could be synthesized by anodizing a tantalum foil for 1 h at 20 V in a two-electrode configuration. The as-prepared porous film exhibited a continuous, uniform and coral-like morphology. The diameters of pores ranged from 30 nm to 50 nm. The pores interlaced each other and the depth was about 150 nm. After calcination, the as-synthesized amorphous tantalum oxide could be crystallized to the orthorhombic crystal system. As observed in photocatalytic experiments, the coral-like tantalum oxide exhibited a higher photocatalytic activity for the degradation of phenol than that with a compact surface morphology, and the elimination rate of phenol increased by 66.7%.

Concepts: Crystallography, Crystal system, Ethylene glycol, Niobium, Electrolytic capacitor, Orthorhombic crystal system, Tantalum capacitor


This work demonstrates an anisotropic increase in resistivity with decreasing width in single crystal tungsten (W) nanowires having a height of 21 nm. Nanowire-widths were in the range of 15-451 nm, with the anisotropy observed for widths below 50 nm. The longitudinal directions of the nanowires coincided with the <100>, <110> and <111> orientations of the body centered cubic phase of W. The resistivity increase was observed to be minimized for the <111>-oriented single crystal nanowires, exhibiting a factor of two lower increase in resistivity at a width of ~15 nm, relative to the thin film resistivity (i.e., an infinitely wide wire). The observed anisotropy is attributed to crystallographic anisotropy of the Fermi velocity and the resultant anisotropy of the electron mean free path in W, and underscores the critical role of crystallographic orientation in nanoscale metallic conduction.

Concepts: Crystallography, Condensed matter physics, Orientation, Crystal system, Cubic crystal system, Coordination number, Atomic packing factor, Space group


CeB2O4F is the first cerium fluoride borate, which is exclusively built up of one-dimensional, infinite chains of condensed trigonal-planar [BO3](3-) groups. This new cerium fluoride borate was synthesized under high-pressure/high-temperature conditions of 0.9 GPa and 1450 °C in a Walker-type multianvil apparatus. The compound crystallizes in the orthorhombic space group Pbca (No. 61) with eight formula units and the lattice parameters a=821.63(5), b=1257.50(9), c=726.71(6) pm, V=750.84(9) Å(3), R 1=0.0698, and wR 2=0.0682 (all data). The structure exhibits a 9+1 coordinated cerium ion, one three-fold coordinated fluoride ion and a one-dimensional chain of [BO3](3-) groups. Furthermore, IR spectroscopy, Electron Micro Probe Analysis and temperature-dependent X-ray powder diffraction measurements were performed.

Concepts: Diffraction, Crystallography, Materials science, X-ray crystallography, Crystal system, Powder diffraction, Neutron diffraction, Crystallographic database


New developments in neutron and synchrotron science and technology are discussed.

Concepts: Crystal, Crystallography, X-ray crystallography, Crystal system, Technology, Crystallographic database, Atomic packing factor


The symmetry of the intermediate high-temperature phase of PbHfO3 has been determined unambiguously to be orthorhombic using a combination of high-resolution X-ray diffraction and birefringence imaging microscopy measurements of crystal plates. While lattice parameter measurements as a function of temperature in the intermediate phase are consistent with either orthorhombic or tetragonal symmetry, domain orientations observed in birefringence imaging microscopy measurements utilizing the Metripol system are only consistent with orthorhombic symmetry with the unit cell in the rhombic orientation of the pseudocubic unit cell.

Concepts: Crystal, Diffraction, X-ray, Crystallography, X-ray crystallography, Crystal system, Liquid crystal, Crystallographic database


We show here that computer game players can build high-quality crystal structures. Introduction of a new feature into the computer game Foldit allows players to build and real-space refine structures into electron density maps. To assess the usefulness of this feature, we held a crystallographic model-building competition between trained crystallographers, undergraduate students, Foldit players and automatic model-building algorithms. After removal of disordered residues, a team of Foldit players achieved the most accurate structure. Analysing the target protein of the competition, YPL067C, uncovered a new family of histidine triad proteins apparently involved in the prevention of amyloid toxicity. From this study, we conclude that crystallographers can utilize crowdsourcing to interpret electron density information and to produce structure solutions of the highest quality.

Concepts: Protein, Protein structure, Amino acid, Crystal, Crystallography, Crystal system, Utility, Crystallographic database


Although broadly admired for its aesthetic qualities, the art of origami is now being recognized also as a framework for mechanical metamaterial design. Working with the Miura-ori tessellation, we find that each unit cell of this crease pattern is mechanically bistable, and by switching between states, the compressive modulus of the overall structure can be rationally and reversibly tuned. By virtue of their interactions, these mechanically stable lattice defects also lead to emergent crystallographic structures such as vacancies, dislocations, and grain boundaries. Each of these structures comes from an arrangement of reversible folds, highlighting a connection between mechanical metamaterials and programmable matter. Given origami’s scale-free geometric character, this framework for metamaterial design can be directly transferred to milli-, micro-, and nanometer-size systems.

Concepts: Crystal structure, Crystallography, Symmetry, Materials science, Crystal system, Crystallographic defect, Origami, Crease pattern


We study experimentally a fine structure of the optical Laue diffraction from two-dimensional periodic photonic lattices. The periodic photonic lattices with the C4v square symmetry, orthogonal C2v symmetry, and hexagonal C6v symmetry are composed of submicron dielectric elements fabricated by the direct laser writing technique. We observe surprisingly strong optical diffraction from a finite number of elements that provides an excellent tool to determine not only the symmetry but also exact number of particles in the finite-length structure and the sample shape. Using different samples with orthogonal C2v symmetry and varying the lattice spacing, we observe experimentally a transition between the regime of multi-order diffraction, being typical for photonic crystals to the regime where only the zero-order diffraction can be observed, being is a clear fingerprint of dielectric metasurfaces characterized by effective parameters.

Concepts: Scientific method, Crystal, Crystallography, Optics, Optical fiber, Metamaterial, Crystal system, Photonics


Graphene and hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) have similar crystal structures with a lattice constant difference of only 2%. However, graphene is a zero-bandgap semiconductor with remarkably high carrier mobility at room temperature, whereas an atomically thin layer of h-BN is a dielectric with a wide bandgap of ∼5.9 eV. Accordingly, if precise two-dimensional domains of graphene and h-BN can be seamlessly stitched together, hybrid atomic layers with interesting electronic applications could be created. Here, we show that planar graphene/h-BN heterostructures can be formed by growing graphene in lithographically patterned h-BN atomic layers. Our approach can create periodic arrangements of domains with size ranging from tens of nanometres to millimetres. The resulting graphene/h-BN atomic layers can be peeled off the growth substrate and transferred to various platforms including flexible substrates. We also show that the technique can be used to fabricate two-dimensional devices, such as a split closed-loop resonator that works as a bandpass filter.

Concepts: Crystal, Semiconductor, Solid, Crystal system, Filter, Band-pass filter, Boron nitride, Aluminium nitride