Email Print Share
August 12, 2015

Discovery of new form of crystalline order

A scanning transmission electron microscope image showing an interlaced crystalline structure in a copper-indium-sulfide nanoparticle.

Scientists have known for over a century that crystalline materials are organized into 14 different basic lattice structures. But a team of researchers at Vanderbilt University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory discovered an entirely new form of crystalline order that simultaneously exhibits both crystal and polycrystalline properties, which they describe as "interlaced crystals."

The researchers found the unusual arrangement of atoms while studying nanoparticles made from the semiconductor copper-indium sulfide, which is being actively studied for use in solar cells. The researchers say the interlaced crystal arrangement has properties that make it ideal for thermoelectric applications that turn heat into electricity. The discovery of materials with improved thermoelectric efficiency could increase the efficiency of electrical power generation, improve automobile mileage and reduce the cost of air conditioning.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (grants DMR 09-38330, EPS 10-04083 and CHE 12-53105) and the U.S. Department of Energy.

To learn more, see the Vanderbilt news story New form of crystalline order holds promise for thermoelectric applications. (Date of Image: 2014)

Credit: Wu Zhou, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation.

Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

Also Available:
Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (1.3 MB)

Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.