This summer I worked with Siddique Khan under the supervision of Dr. Amit Chakrabarti running computer simulations of charged nanoparticle interactions. Nanoparticles are simply particles whose sizes are measured in billionths of meters. We were studying spherical gold and silver nanoparticles which when placed in solution will, under certain conditions, cluster together and form ordered crystal lattices. Whether or not they do depends on the forces between the particles.

The force we were interested in was the electrostatic Coulomb force that arises when the particles are charged - for instance two oppositely charged nanoparticles will attract whereas two positively charged nanoparticles will repel one another. We ran a computer model that tried to simulate an experiment that was conducted in 2006 in which positively charged silver nanoparticles and negatively charged gold nanoparticles assembled themselves into the kind of crystal lattice seen in diamonds. This self-assembly appeared to be the result of the Coulomb interaction alone, since it would have dominated all other forces, and so we ran simulations in which the Coulomb force was the only force.

A more in depth explanation of my project can be found here.