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Berkeley Researchers Now Help Study Polymers At An Atomic Scale

Berkeley Researchers Now Help Study Polymers At An Atomic Scale
Eugene Lawhorn
Written by Eugene Lawhorn

Everything right from the food containers to certain daily appliances is made using plastics. Some of the modern materials have a large portion of them made using synthetic plastics. Currently, it has been calculated that about 110 million tons of synthetic polymers including polyethylene and polypropylene are produced per year on a global scale for the various plastic materials. Though the detailing about plastics is given clearing the polymers at the atomic scale is still vague. The cumbersome task of imaging the polymer materials at the atomic scale has made the researchers image single atoms present in the polymers via the computer simulations and graphics.

Lately, a group of researchers guided by Nitash Balsara from Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley has sought to use a potent electron-based imaging technique for capturing images of the tiny atoms embedded in a synthetic polymer forming the overall structure. This new discovery is sure to pave a new way for the polymer fabrication methods and also help find new designs for materials or devices that integrate polymers. In the current research, the scientists have created a cryogenic electron microscopy imaging technique wherein the inclusion of computerized simulations and other sorting techniques aids identifying minuscule crystal structures in a peptoid polymer material which is a synthetic molecule mimicking the biological molecules like peptides. The beam used to view the images tend to damage the materials and also the 2 angstroms image obtained is quite blurry and the sorting techniques or algorithms have to be used to clear out the images. The undiscovered motifs at the atomic scale can now be explored in the crystal structures.

The researchers Ron Zuckermann synthesizes model peptoids, David Prendergast uses molecular dynamics simulations to analyze images, Balsara excels in polymer science, and Andrew Minor expertise in atomic scale imaging of metals. The atomic scale structuring could help obtain intricate information regarding synthetic polymers and also widen their application in the therapeutic field, drug development, and so on. A team of physicists at Utrecht University have created a fractal structure with a non-integer dimension consisting of the Sierpiński triangles which tend to help transmit and receive energy in a large frequency range and prove to be useful for various electronic applications.

About the author

Eugene Lawhorn

Eugene Lawhorn

When it comes to Science, Eugene is the one who comes in mind. Eugene carries more than 7 years of experience and has a Degree in Astronomy. He is well aware of all the facts about the Science domain and hence is capable of leading the department fruitfully. In his free time, Eugene is seen having a peaceful time with his pet dog along the beach.

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