(SciTechDaily) A Rutgers-led team has created ultra-small titanium dioxide crystals that exhibit unusual “blinking” behavior and may help to produce methane and other fuels. The crystals, also known as nanoparticles, stay charged for a long time and could benefit efforts to develop quantum computers.
“Our findings are quite important and intriguing in a number of ways, and more research is needed to understand how these exotic crystals work and to fulfill their potential,” said senior author Tewodros (Teddy) Asefa, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. He’s also a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering in the School of Engineering.
The team of scientists and engineers discovered a new way to make extremely small titanium dioxide crystals. While it’s still unclear why the engineered crystals blink and research is ongoing, the “blinking” is believed to arise from single electrons trapped on titanium dioxide nanoparticles. At room temperature, electrons – surprisingly – stay trapped on nanoparticles for tens of seconds before escaping and then become trapped again and again in a continuous cycle.