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Imagine a tower builds itself into the desired structure only by choosing the appropriate bricks. Absurd – and however, in the nano world this is reality: There an unordered crowd of components can initiate the formation of an ordered structure – a process known as self-assembly. The physicists Christos Likos (University of Vienna), Emanuela Bianchi and Gerhard Kahl (both Vienna University of Technology) investigate how they can control the ordering of such self-assembling structures and found out how to switch the assembly process on and off. The results are now published in the high-impact journal Nano Letters.

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