Every year baubles get more innovative from your typical gold and sliver baubles to solar system themed baubles and finally gold and silver nano-baubles.

The nano-baubles produced by researchers, in Mexico and the US, are about 100 million times smaller than the typical baubles which are used to decorate Christmas trees.

The research was published December 2010 issue of the International Journal of Nanoparticles, where the scientists reported the formation of various sliver, gold and bimetallic nanoparticles which are only 25 nanometres in diameter. 

They utilized vitamin C (a.k.a ascorbic acid) and a soap like antiseptic which is usually used in high-end cosmetics. The reaction of silver nitrate and the gold compound chloroauric acid under these conditions led to successive reduction of the metals and the formation of different silver, gold and bimetallic nanoparticles. The precise structures of the nanoparticles were revealed using a high-resolution elemental mapping technique. The analysis shows the nanoparticles to have multiple layers, shells of gold within silver within gold, in the case of the bimetallic particles and some blending, or alloying, of the metals occurred.

Nanoparticles shape a larger part of researchers interests because nanoparticles can be used for a variety of things:

  1. Act as catalysts to speed up the rates of chemical reactions
  2. Act as novel drug-deliver agents in the body
  3. Act as quantum dots for analytical applications
  4. May be used in the fabrication of the components of future electronics devices beyond the silicon chip
Bimetallic nanoparticles are also really intriguing because of their structure, composition and very very very small size. This means they are able to have even more intriguing chemical, electronic and optical properties than single-metal nanoparticles. 

Gold and silver nanoparticles are particularly useful as their optical effects occur at visible wavelengths of light. The researchers added that if it were possible to fine-tune the combination of gold and silver in the same nanoparticles then it might also be possible to tune the optical properties of such particles.