Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The Nanostructure Problem



Simon J. Billinge, Igor Levin


The powerful methods we have for solving the atomic structure of bulk crystals fail for nanostructured materials and there are currently no broadly applicable, quantitative and robust methods to replace them. The solution of this nanostructure problem is one of the grand challenges of nanoscience. Here we give a brief overview of the various classes of nanostructured materials, and review the methods that are currently used to study their structure. We suggest that a robust solution of the nanostructure problem will involve interactions between scientists from multiple disciplines such as materials scientists, physicists, chemists, computer scientists and applied mathematicians, working within a complex modeling paradigm that combines theory and experiment in a self-consistent computational framework.


characterization, crystal structure, nanostructure


Billinge, S. and Levin, I. (2021), The Nanostructure Problem, Science (Accessed June 16, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created October 12, 2021