Narrator:This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have witnessed strange and puzzling behaviors when they look at the structure of small nanoparticles. Physicist Benjamin Gilbert says that depending on what material you've got and what environment you're working with, nanoparticle structures can change before your eyes.
Gilbert: We were really interested to see this because this is indication that the structure of nanoparticles is not a static property. It can actually change at room temperature depending on what environment it finds itself in.
Narrator: In their experiments, researchers used water to cause a semiconducting nanoparticle to change its entire crystal structure. Gilbert says the ability to control structure by changing environments could be a breakthrough in the semiconductor industry.
Gilbert: What we have speculated is that semiconductor nanoparticles may be of a range of possible structures that they could adopt, depending on what one puts on the surface. And that we could have some control over these structures just by choosing the correct solvent or the correct coating material.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.