Researchers stumble onto 'lava' generated quantum dots, could power future displays, storage

Have you ever been playing around with molten metal salt, when you accidentally created hollow, soft-shelled particles that could one day increase hard disk storage or power future QLED displays? Us neither, but that's exactly what happened to scientists at Rice University when they were researching "tetrapods" to make solar panels more efficient. Through an apparently wacky coincidence, they removed a single ingredient from the tetrapod stew, which left behind tiny droplets of cadmium nitrate. Selenium then melted around those drops, which completely dissolved away, leaving a melted selenium ball with a hole in the middle. It turns out that those selenium "doughnuts" can be packed tightly onto a metal surface without touching, thanks to their soft shells, which could allow more bits to be packed onto a hard drive, or be used in quantum computers and next-gen displays. Since the dots are smaller than a living cell, it took the researchers an entire year to figure out what they'd made and how they did it -- luckily they didn't just bin the whole thing and start over.