Toward Smart Materials Using Helium Ions

Beams generated in a helium ion microscope can change the behavior of atoms and create new materials, found researchers from Queensland University of Technology. “We discovered that a beam of energetic helium ions generated in a helium ion microscope rearranged a nanoporous anodized alumina material on the atomic scale and shrank its pores to various, unprecedented tiny sizes,” said Professor Kostya Ostrikov. “These tiny pores mean scientists could potentially ‘sift’ molecules into different sizes to study them individually. It could open the way to early detection of cancer, for example, through a blood test that could detect DNA produced by a cancer before the tumor developed.” According to lead study author Dr. Morteza Aramesh, “This new way of redesigning materials will help researchers and engineers to create novel smart materials with different functions, for example, new pharmaceuticals, disease diagnostics, and quantum computing.”

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