This electron microscope image of hairy nanoparticles makes them look cute, but they can also be explosive. A team at the China Academy of Engineering Physics came up with a way to make gold nanorods with uniform size, and because the nanoparticles are so similar, they absorb the same wavelength of light, causing them to heat up simultaneously when exposed to an ultraviolet laser. The team followed that up by covering the nanorods with shells of silica, which look like coats of fur in this image. The silica is porous and good at absorbing small molecules, so the researchers impregnated the shells with a “high-energy compound,” aka an explosive. To make them ignite, they found, all it took was laser-heating the nanorods.
Credit: Yu Dai and Songhai Xie. Read the group’s recent paper in ACS Applied Nano Materials, DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.3c00714
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