Award Number1461607
Funding AgencyNational Science Foundation
Effective Date2015-07-15
Expiration Date2019-05-31
Funding Amount$132,506


Non-technical summary: Icosahedral quasicrystalline structure is distinguished by its unique atomic configuration. In contrast to the long history of amorphous and crystalline structures, this particular structure was first reported only thirty years ago. Furthermore, icosahedral quasicrystalline nanoparticles have not yet been reported, despite the intense study and wide applications of crystalline and amorphous nanoparticles. The focus of this project is on the fabrication of such icosahedral quasicrystalline nanoparticles. Application of these particles in self assembly is expected to result in a three dimensional icosahedral quasicrystalline pattern, and will aid in understanding the importance of factors affecting the stability of icosahedral quasicrystalline structure. The project has a significant impact on undergraduate education at Clarion University (CU), a rural institution located in northwest Pennsylvania, approximately two hours drive from any major cities and academic centers. Notably CU accepts many first generation college students. This work gives these students a rare opportunity to observe and participate in scientific research and discovery, stimulating their interest toward, and boosting their confidence in developing careers in science and technology. It also adds to the enrichment of our knowledge in the field of nanotechnology in the form of peer-reviewed publications and presentations at conferences. Additionally the project is integrated into eight undergraduate physics and nanotechnology courses, directly impacting the education of approximately one hundred students per year. Finally, as the result of outreach efforts in collaboration with a well-established Science in Motion program, this project provides students and teachers of local high schools with a unique opportunity to participate and learn.

Technical summary: Studies in the past thirty years have resulted in reports of some alloys with stable icosahedral quasicrystalline structures. This progress paves the way for the current project, making the fabrication of icosahedral quasicrystalline nanoparticles from these alloys possible. The nanoparticles are produced by the combined usage of mechanical breaking, chemical etching, surface functionalizing, de-functionalizing, and size sorting. The particle sizes range from ten nanometers to one micrometer. Experimental conditions are adjusted to generate particles of either spherical or dodecahedral pentagonal morphologies for different applications. Out of multiple potential applications, the researchers focus on studying self-assembly of said nanoparticles. Due to the unique dodecahedral pentagonal morphology of the selected nanoparticles, assembly of a three dimensional icosahedral quasicrystalline structure is expected. This type of structure has not yet been reported and can be used as a model to understand the atomic configuration of icosahedral quasicrystalline structure.