PerspectiveMaterials Science

Self-Assembled Nanocoils

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Science  27 Feb 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5662, pp. 1308-1309
DOI: 10.1126/science.1095178

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Ceramics are generally thought to be much more brittle than metals or polymers. At the nanoscale, however, ceramic materials can exhibit surprising flexibility. In his Perspective, Korgel discusses work reported in the same issue by Kong et al. on the synthesis of nanocoils of zinc oxide. Nanoribbons created by vapor phase deposition were found to undergo coiling induced by electrostatic attraction between adjacent ribbon edges. When the edges make contact, they match up with atomic precision. Formation of such unusual structures suggests the possibility of creating even more complex objects in the future.