If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Small, small walls

by Manny I. Fox Morone
October 2, 2020


Silver nanocubes stacked inot a wall about four cubes high and four cubes wide in a curved wall seen through a scanning electron microscope.
Credit: Harshal Agrawal

The tiny building blocks that form this crumbly wall are silver nanocubes just 75 nm tall. This raises the question, How did anyone stack these tiny, tiny cubes so cleanly? We have Harshal Agrawal and Erik Garnett to thank for that. The duo, a PhD researcher and a professor, respectively, at the University of Amsterdam, started by creating a sort of ink that consists of ethanol with nanocubes floating around inside it. After dropping the ink onto a surface, the researchers pressed it with a stamp patterned with nanosized trenches, which corralled the little cubes into the shape of trenches. Both the stackability of the cubes and fact that there’s very little space between them make them superior to nanospheres for constructing these kinds of structures. This technique is especially good for quickly making a lot of nanostructures out of small cubes that have uniform crystalline structures, such as an array of thin-walled rings (below), which might be useful for making solar cells.

An array of rings constructed using imprint lithography made using a nanocube ink.
Credit: Harshal Agrawal

Credit: Harshal Agrawal. Read the paper in ACS Nano (2020, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c04793)

Do science. Take pictures. Win money. Enter our photo contest here.

Click here to see more Chemistry in Pictures.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.