Scientists Are Starting a New Periodic Table

Written by Caroline Delbert

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DR. URI BANIN/THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM

Quantum dots can arrange themselves into artificial atoms and molecules, leading to a new form of chemistry.

Scientists making these atoms in a new, room-temperature process imagine a new periodic table for them.The dots are nanoscopic semiconductors that emit light, which are popular in electronics research.

Scientists have started a new periodic table for quantum dots, which they refer to as “artificial atoms.” Quantum dots are nano-sized particles that are made of semiconducting materials. Researchers are rapidly exploring new applications for quantum dots, from TVs to lasers to body-nontoxic medical applications.

Like carbon nanotubes, graphene sheets, and classic buckminsterfullerene, quantum dots are considered a nanomaterial—but they also conduct electricity because of the way they trap electrons. This is also why they’re a good candidate for a periodic table of their own. Scientists can arrange them in structures very like naturally occurring atoms of “real” elements.

But quantum dots are themselves made of thousands of atoms, so these artificial quantum dot atoms are relatively huge. Their crystalline format helps them conduct and illuminate, like the pegs you use in a LiteBrite, except the light comes from inside. Different sizes glow in different colors.

Israeli scientist Uri Banin led the team developing the new periodic table, which he says developed naturally after his group invented a way to allow quantum dots to rearrange and form molecules on their own. “Coupling of atoms is the basis of chemistry, yielding the beauty and richness of molecules,” Banin et al’s evocative abstract begins.

The traditional periodic table accounts for 150 million known molecules made with combinations of the 118 known elements—and now, with a whole new toolbox, who knows what’s next? “Formation of [these colloidal quantum dot (CQD)] molecules sets the stage for ‘nanocrystal chemistry,’” Banin’s team concludes, with the full complement of new entire kinds of molecules that that brings with it. “Such CQD molecules bear significant promise for their utilization in numerous applications, including in light-emitting devices, displays, photovoltaics, and sensors.”

Banin and his team have improved on an existing method for coupling quantum dots into molecular structures. The previous method, molecular beam epitaxy, resulted in larger quantum dots that were less useful and unstable at all but the most extremely cold temperatures. Their new colloidal quantum dot method happens at room temperature, which is another reason for the comparison to the periodic table.

Does it make sense to consider these artificial atoms to be new elements? This is hard to say when the technology is brand new, but the history of science is stuffed with huge paradigm shifts of this nature. In the beginning, scientists doing their absolute best with what they could observe believed that there were very few elements, including “earth,” that were just made of what they appeared to be. They identified different kinds of metals and began associating them and their properties with astrological ideas and mythology.

For a long time, scientists who believed in individual particles they had already begun to call “atoms” were considered heretics. Still, more and more scientists believe matter was made of particles, and long before anyone could really see them using even secondary observations. Maybe in 100 years, the second periodic table will seem as commonplace to people as the existing periodic table is to us today. Certainly, the applications of quantum dots will be legion by then.

Read more at popularmechanics.com


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Comments (6)

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    Jerry Krause

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    Hi Caroline,

    For whom do you write? Popular Mechanics? I read: “Popular Mechanics participates in various affiliate marketing programs.” Doesn’t seem to be science.

    I researched: Who is DR. URI BANIN? And at least he has scientific (chemistry) credentials.

    Caroline, you wrote: “Researchers are rapidly exploring new applications for quantum dots, from TVs to lasers to body-nontoxic medical applications. Like carbon nanotubes, graphene sheets, and classic buckminsterfullerene, quantum dots are considered a nanomaterial—but they also conduct electricity because of the way they trap electrons. This is also why they’re a good candidate for a periodic table of their own. Scientists can arrange them in structures very like naturally occurring atoms of “real” elements.”

    The publisher, Louis Elsevir, of Galileo’s best know book wrote in his preface to the potential reader of this book: “Intuitive knowledge keeps pace with accurate definition.”

    So my question is: Why confuse the accurate definition of an atom with a new artificial definition of an atom? Why confuse what we know as a periodic arrangement of the elements based upon the observed (the result of many careful experiments conducted by several scientists) regular, but different properties, of these elements?

    You wrote: “Scientists can arrange them in structures very like naturally occurring atoms of “real” elements.” My question is: Have they?

    Another is: How do the properties of one artificial element differ from the properties of a different artificial element. Without this knowledge an artificial periodic table cannot be constructed for many more artificial elements needed to even begin to see if it is possible for an artificial periodic to be constructed.

    It seems before Dr. Banin can begin to consider a new periodic table he needs to report his studies which identify the differing properties of these new artificial atoms actually composed of many ‘actual’ atoms.

    For based upon my knowledge of elementary (pun intended) chemistry, it seems to me he may have possibly discovered a new class of molecules which do need and deserve further study.

    Have a good day, Jerry

    • Avatar

      Mary

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      That is a really good point, Jerry!
      “So my question is: Why confuse the accurate definition of an atom with a new artificial definition of an atom?” Obviously, you know why they continue to confuse the real with the false, it’s so that they can stick their garbage into the mainstream without anyone knowing the difference, thereby they could get their foot up over others in the sale of their poisons as though they were something beneficial. Like Caroline wrote…it’s not a sentient entity they’re trying to bring forth, it’s a thing that has been an enemy of mankind for a long time: “Certainly, the applications of quantum dots will be legion by then.” And now you have the true name for them. “Legion.” It’s a subversive way for them to get themselves, if they can, into healthy life. I’ve already seen a thing floating through the sky, a few years ago, having something to do with an American Indian who I had been communicating with…as in Atlantean’s in the older age. They were perhaps the original beings on the planet, these red skinned Indians, and what better way than to attach themselves to them in order to figure that they could claim the planet as theirs? So I saw this thing I thought, from a distance, was a large bird, an eagle, soaring low, almost in front of me. I thought maybe it was that Indian had sent me a message, but as I kept looking, it morphed into what looked like a black plastic garbage bag, and I was like, what the hell? How could that, which I thought was a soaring eagle, suddenly be a scrap of black garbage bag? But as I kept looking, and it felt like it was looking back at me, too…I saw it had a bright white light on top of it, where the rest of it was pure black. I thought maybe it could be the sun reflecting off it? But as I looked, it just started to look very artificial, and that light just seemed to be only in one area, and gave off its own light, and it was just floating ever so slowly in the air, and as soon as I recognized it for what it was, it disappeared behind some trees and I lost sight of it. That’s the type of false light, fictional artificial project they’re telling us, only NOW, about, but have been delving into for a looooong time.

      • Avatar

        Mary

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        I suppose I should fill in some blanks, because the ‘sin’ of omission is like lying. And I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone. I had seen about a month earlier, an eagle flying, soaring around this little city, Windsor, across from Detroit Michigan, and it’s rare. I have seen them really high up in the sky, hardly detectable, but this time I had seen them right above the city. And the next day, as I sat at my computer upstairs I looked through the large window and that eagle soared right over my house past the window, centered! so I could see its underbelly, it was so awesome. I had been communicating in a special way with a man who wrote the book “Song of the Deer”, by Thunder Strikes. He was still alive back then. And then a month later, is when I saw that strange incident that I described above.

      • Avatar

        Jerry Krause

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        Hi Mary,

        I believe you have stated it better than I could, so I didn’t try to go where you correctly did.

        Remeber: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Any time you read someone emphasizing the complexity of what one is studying, you know this one is not a scientist.

        Have a good day, Jerry

        Have a good day, Jerry

      • Avatar

        Jerry Krause

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        Hi Mary,

        Because I messed up my comment as too usual, I decided to comment about: “And then a month later, is when I saw that strange incident that I described above.”

        I call such an experience a God Sighting.

        Have a good day, Jerry

  • Avatar

    Jerry Krause

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    Hi PSI Readers,

    I just remembered a historical fact. The elements of elementary matter were discovered before it could even be concluded there might be atoms of elementary matter. The atomic theory is a theory, elementary matter is an observed fact, not a theory.

    Have a good day, Jerry

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