In a quest to develop low-friction components for ever smaller mechanical systems, a team of physicists in Germany has recently discovered a previously unknown type of friction that they call “desorption stick.” The researchers examined how and why single polymer molecules in various solvents slide over or stick to certain surfaces. They found that an unexpected factor was responsible for the friction they observed.
Amid concerns over the potential health effects of existing flame retardants for home furniture, fabrics and other material, are reporting development of an “exceptionally” effective new retardant that appears safer and more environmentally friendly. The key is a nanocoating made with a relatively benign polymer that creates a “gas blanket,” preventing oxygen from fueling a fire.
Sulfur dioxide has been pegged as a significant cooling element in atmospheric climate models because of its ability to form sulfate aerosol particles that reflect sunlight. Recent findings from a team suggest that it is likely most models overestimate the cooling effect of these particles. The reason is a largely disregarded reaction pathway catalyzed by mineral dust within clouds.
Using a powerful combination of microanalytic techniques that simultaneously image photoelectric current and chemical reaction rates across a surface on a micrometer scale, researchers at NIST have shed new light on what may become a cost-effective way to generate hydrogen gas directly from water and sunlight.
Purple bacteria are among Earth’s oldest organisms, and among its most efficient in turning sunlight into usable chemical energy. A new analysis to determine the reason for its light-harvesting prowess has revealed a ring-shaped molecule with an unusual ninefold symmetry. This symmetry accounts its efficiency, and for its mechanical durability and strength.
Detecting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could soon become far easier with the help of an innovative technique developed by a team at NIST, where scientists have overcome an issue preventing the effective use of lasers to rapidly scan samples. The team says the technique also could work for other jobs that require gas detection, including the search for hidden explosives and monitoring chemical processes in industry and the environment.
The way in which radio spectrum is currently allocated to different wireless technologies can lead to gross inefficiencies. Cognitive radio serves as a solution. Different proposals for cognitive radio place different emphases on hardware and software, but the chief component of many hardware approaches is a bank of filters that can isolate any frequency in a wide band. Researchers have developed a new method for manufacturing such filters.
The atom-sized world of carbon nanotubes holds great promise for a future demanding smaller and faster electronic components. The challenge has been figuring out how to incorporate all of these nanotubes' great properties into useful electronic devices. A new discovery by four scientists at the University of California, Riverside has brought us closer to the goal.
A Wayne State University researcher understands that the three most important things about real estate also apply to small ground robotic vehicles: location, location, location. A recently published paper describes the development of a technique called LOBOT that provides accurate, real-time, 3D positions in both indoor and outdoor environments.
A new design tool interprets hand gestures, enabling designers and artists to create and modify 3D shapes using only their hands as a "natural user interface" instead of keyboard and mouse. The tool, called Shape-It-Up, uses specialized computer algorithms and a depth-sensing camera to observe and interpret hand movements and gestures.
The California Energy Commission has awarded $1.7 million to a partnership between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Cool Earth Solar Inc. to conduct a community-scale renewable energy integration demonstration project at the Livermore Valley Open Campus.
Most Michigan and Pennsylvania residents say fracking is good for the economy, but have concerns about chemicals used and other environmental risks, according to a University of Michigan survey. Fracking is the common term for hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals deep into the ground through encased wells at high pressure to create and expand fractures in the shale rock.
Researchers in Europe have developed a new experimental system to gain accurate information on mechanical values and properties of any microelectromechanical (MEMS) device through electrical measurement. The technique works by applying a current across the device with a varying frequency and analyzes the harmonic content of the output voltage of the component parts.
It’s a familiar scenario—a patient receives a medical implant and days later, the body attacks the artificial valve or device, causing complications to an already compromised system. Expensive medical devices and surgeries often are thwarted by the body’s natural response to attack something in the tissue that appears foreign. Now, University of Washington engineers have demonstrated in mice a way to prevent this sort of response.
Alloys like bronze and steel have been transformational for centuries, yielding machines necessary for industry. As scientists move toward nanotechnology, however, the focus has shifted toward creating alloys at the nanometer scale—producing materials with properties unlike their predecessors. Now, research demonstrates that nanometer-scale alloys possess the ability to emit light so bright they could have medical applications.