The term “plasmons” might sound like something from the soon-to-be-released new Star Wars movie, but the effects of plasmons have been known about for centuries. Plasmons are collective oscillations of conduction electrons (those loosely attached to molecules and atoms) that roll across the surfaces of metals while interacting with photons.
Organic materials are increasingly being applied in cutting-edge technologies. Organic semiconductors, for example, are being used to develop paper-thin, plastic LED screens. Materials scientists need to understand the structures and physical properties of organic materials at the atomic level to optimize the efficiency and increase the life span of devices that incorporate them.
Nearly four billion years ago, the earliest precursors of life on Earth emerged. First small, simple molecules, or monomers, banded together to form larger, more complex molecules, or polymers. Then those polymers developed a mechanism that allowed them to self-replicate and pass their structure on to future generations.
Researchers at the Univ. of Maryland recently discovered that paper made of cellulose fibers is tougher and stronger the smaller the fibers get. For a long time, engineers have sought a material that is both strong (resistant to non-recoverable deformation) and tough (tolerant of damage).
Penn State Univ. engineers have developed a new “portable power supply” that will make it easier to manufacture plastics, therapeutics, fuels and other chemicals from sustainable feedstocks using diverse microbial organisms.
A new fabrication technique that produces platinum hollow nanocages with ultra-thin walls could dramatically reduce the amount of the costly metal needed to provide catalytic activity in such applications as fuel cells. The technique uses a solution-based method for producing atomic-scale layers of platinum to create hollow, porous structures that can generate catalytic activity both inside and outside the nanocages.
Medical devices designed to reside in the stomach have a variety of applications, including prolonged drug delivery, electronic monitoring and weight-loss intervention. However, these devices, often created with non-degradable elastic polymers, bear an inherent risk of intestinal obstruction as a result of accidental fracture or migration. As such, they are usually designed to remain in the stomach for a limited time.
Quantum technology based on light (photons) has great potential for radically new information technology based on photonic circuits. Up to now, the photons in quantum photonic circuits have behaved in the same way whether they moved forward or backward in a photonic channel. This has limited the ability to control the photons and thus build complex circuits for photonic quantum computers.
A multidisciplinary team at Yale Univ., led by Yale Cancer Center members, has defined a subgroup of genetic mutations that are present in a significant number of melanoma skin cancer cases. Their findings shed light on an important mutation in this deadly disease, and may lead to more targeted anti-cancer therapies.
Using powerful computer simulations, researchers from Brown Univ. have identified a material with a higher melting point than any known substance. The computations showed that a material made with just the right amounts of hafnium, nitrogen and carbon would have a melting point of more than 4,400 K (7,460 F).
When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them constitute the bulk of the expense. The solar cells, made often of silicon or cadmium telluride, rarely cost more than 20% of the total cost. Solar energy could be made cheaper if less land had to be purchased to accommodate solar panels, best achieved if each solar cell could be coaxed to generate more power.
By tightly integrating experimental and theoretical techniques, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory team has provided fundamentally new insights into the specific factors that determine the absorption characteristics of copper complexes. The results demonstrate that conventional interpretations based on “ligand field theory” are insufficient for capturing the full characteristics of the absorption profile.
The silkworm, which produces the essential ingredient for fine silk fabric, also plays a critical role in a new process designed to provide relief for millions of individuals with dry mouth, a devastating oral and systemic health issue. A research team led by The Univ. of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is the first to use silk fibers as a framework to grow stem cells into salivary gland cells.
Coating the inside of glass microtubes with a polymer hydrogel material dramatically alters the way capillary forces draw water into the tiny structures, researchers have found. The discovery could provide a new way to control microfluidic systems, including popular lab-on-a-chip devices.
All around the deserts of Utah, Nevada, southern Oregon and eastern California, ancient shorelines line the hillsides above dry valley floors, like bathtub rings—remnants of the lakes once found throughout the region. Even as the ice sheets retreated at the end of the last ice age, the region remained much wetter than it is today. The earliest settlers of the region encountered a verdant landscape of springs and wetlands.