A Little Chemistry Helps the Big Get Bigger

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  29 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6004, pp. 599-600
DOI: 10.1126/science.1191665

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


What is the common denominator between the geologic formation of gemstones, the degradation of pharmaceutical suspensions, and the manufacture of structural steels? They all can involve a process called coarsening, in which a group of objects of different sizes transforms into fewer objects with larger average size (1), such that “the big get bigger.” The atoms that occupy boundary locations between different phases tend to be less energetically stable, and coarsening stabilizes the overall system by decreasing the number of such atoms. A fundamental scientific question in coarsening is identifying how the requisite transport of atoms occurs. New answers to this question are being revealed by studies of nanoscale particles that are grown on surfaces