NanochemistryNanoscience is an exciting area, concerning the study of materials at an ultra-small scale with at least one of the dimensions at the nanoscale. Benefitting from the very small sizes, nanomaterials are governed by quantum mechanics, leading to unique and interesting properties that are distinct from bulk materials. Nanoscience has the potential to reshape the world around us, and can potentially revolutionize a variety of fields, from consumer products to healthcare and modern technologies. 

The nanochemistry group investigates molecules, molecular clusters and novel nanomaterials grown in superfluid helium droplets. In this context the unique properties possessed by helium droplets include 1) a very low temperature (0.37 K); 2) superfluidity, which permits dopants to be mobile and yet allows rapid cooling; 3) sequential addition of materials, facilitating the formation of core-shell structures; 4) quantized vortices, which serve as intrinsic templates for the growth of one-dimensional nanostructures; and 5) chemical inertness, allowing a nearly unlimited combination of materials to be incorporated into helium droplets to form nanostructures.  

We have explored a wide range of novel nanomaterials using superfluid helium droplets as the nanoreactors, such as single-crystalline metal nanoparticles, magnetic nanoparticles with very high magnetic moments, ultrathin nanowires and core-shell nanoparticles. More recently, we discovered ion-molecule reactions catalysed by a single metal atom within a van der Waals complex, and new quantum hydrodynamics by quantized vortex arrays. 

Selected publications

  • “Single gold atom catalyzed ion-molecule reactions”, S. Yang, H. Wu, Q. Luo, A. Al Hindawi, B. Sitorus, A. M. Ellis, J. Yang, Chem. Sci. in press (2020). 
  • “Robust ferromagnetism of chromium nanoparticles formed in superfluid helium”, S. Yang, C. Feng, D. Spence, A. M. A. A. Al Hindawi, E. Latimer, A. M. Ellis, C. Binns, D. Peddis, S. S. Dhesi, L. Zhang, Y. Zhang, K. N. Trohidou, M. Vasilakaki, N. Ntallis, I. MacLaren, F. M. F. de Groot, Adv. Mater. 29, 1604277 (2017). 
  • “Preparation of ultrathin nanowires using superfluid helium droplets”, E. Latimer, D. Spence, C. Feng, A. Boatwright, A. M. Ellis, S. Yang, Nano Lett. 14, 2902-2906 (2014).