Some of the best known discoveries were discovered by accident and that is very much the case with the latest discovery in nanotechnology.
A group of scientists at Rice University were initially looking for a route to producing tiny nano dots with 4 legs known as Nano-jacks, but actually created tiny spheres instead, which they have called Lava-dots.
The team were left with a puzzle; deciphering the mechanism which should have taken them to a quantum dot in the shape of a tetrapod but ended with hollow spheres. It took them over a year to find most of the answers.
The Lava-dots are very different to ordinary quantum dots in a number of ways; for example they are much larger than conventional dots and have the odd behaviour when near to each other of compressing and packing tightly together, but not actually touching.
The really exciting characteristic is that they exhibit improved solar cell efficiencies compared with conventional Nano-dot devices.
Serendipity is a great thing in research and the scientists hope that it will play a further role in on-going studies and tests in the area of novel catalysts for hydrogen production, chemical sensors and as components for solar cells.