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The happy accident that showed scientists how to string silver atoms




Normally such experiments are performed in vacuum chambers, but Professor Golberg said they just decided to do some experiments in regular air “to see what would happen”.

“Normally when you work with silver in the air the atoms oxidise very quickly and become inert,” he said.

“But we found that there was strong diffusion of silver atoms inside the channels. It’s called self-organisation process. We don’t yet understand fully how it works, but we could see the results.”

“Items one atom thick are very rare in nature and prone to oxidisation, but these strings are stable in the channels and we confirmed this using electron microscopy.”

There were up to 200 of these wires of silver atoms in each channel, and all were stable…

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