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Forging a new periodic table using nanostructures

February 18, 2013 8:43 am | News | Comments

Northwestern University's Chad A. Mirkin, a leading nanotechnology researcher, has developed a completely new set of building blocks that is based on nanoparticles and DNA. Using these tools, which Mirkin presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston on Feb. 17, scientists will be able to build—from the bottom up, just as nature does—new and useful structures from artificial atoms.

Evolution inspires more efficient solar cell design

January 25, 2013 11:02 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Northwestern University have now developed a new design for organic solar cells that could lead to more efficient, less expensive solar power. Instead of attempting to increase efficiency by altering the thickness of the solar cell's polymer layer—a tactic that has preciously garnered mixed results—the researchers sought to design the geometric pattern of the scattering layer to maximize the amount of time light remained trapped within the cell.

Exotic chemical compound could be useful in batteries

January 24, 2013 2:08 pm | News | Comments

Northwestern University graduate student Jonathan Barnes had a hunch for creating an exotic new chemical compound, and his idea that the force of love is stronger than hate proved correct. He and his colleagues are the first to permanently interlock two identical tetracationic rings that normally are repelled by each other. Many experts had said it couldn't be done.

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Researchers create method for more sensitive electrochemical sensors

January 17, 2013 12:43 pm | News | Comments

Graphene and related materials hold promise for the future of electrochemical sensors, but many applications require greater sensitivity at lower detection ranges than scientists have been able to achieve. A Northwestern University research team and partners in India have recently developed a new method for amplifying signals in graphene oxide-based electrochemical sensors through a process called "magneto-electrochemical immunoassay."

Nanoscale “Goldilocks” phenomenon could improve biofuel production

January 15, 2013 4:37 pm | News | Comments

In a case of the Goldilocks story retold at the molecular level, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University have discovered a new path to the development of more stable and efficient catalysts. The research team sought to create "nanobowls"—nanosized bowl shapes that allow inorganic catalysts to operate selectively on particular molecules.

Study uncovers impact of gender-biased resource allocation on "productivity gap"

December 17, 2012 11:14 am | News | Comments

A new Northwestern University study of professors in STEM fields at top research universities across the country shows that bias against women is ingrained in the workforce, despite a societal desire to believe workplace equality exists. The quantitative study of the complete publication records of more than 4,200 professors in seven STEM fields confirms that, for some disciplines, female faculty do publish fewer papers than male faculty but not for lack of talent or effort.

Researchers create new shapes of artificial microcompartments

December 12, 2012 3:22 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Northwestern University have figured out how to mimic the different shapes of microcompartments found in nature. The findings could have implications in materials research, targeted drug delivery, and more.

Hybrid approach sheds light on crystal structure solution

December 12, 2012 8:43 am | News | Comments

Understanding the arrangement of atoms in a solid is vital to materials research—but the problem can be difficult to solve in many important situations. Now, by combining the work of two different scientific camps, Northwestern University researchers have created an algorithm that makes crystal structure solution more automated and reliable.

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New model predicts movement of charged particles in complex media

November 28, 2012 12:53 pm | News | Comments

Elementary electrostatics we can calculate the force particle exert upon one another. When particles are submerged into a medium like water, however, the calculation grows more complex, and become very difficult when media become complicated. Northwestern University physicists have, after seven years of work, built a model that can predict reactions in any media.

Proving quantum computers feasible

November 27, 2012 8:12 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

With a new contribution to probability theory, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, IBM, Northwestern University, and colleagues from the Czech Republic have shown that relatively simple physical systems could yield powerful quantum computers.

New structures self-assemble in synchronized dance

November 21, 2012 2:02 pm | News | Comments

With self-assembly guiding the steps and synchronization providing the rhythm, a new class of materials forms dynamic, moving structures in an intricate dance. Researchers from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University have demonstrated tiny spheres that synchronize their movements as they self-assemble into a spinning microtube.

Catheter performs triple-duty with stretchable electronics

November 15, 2012 4:20 pm | News | Comments

A research team has used stretchable electronics to create a multipurpose medical catheter that can both monitor heart functions and perform corrections on heart tissue during surgery. The device marks the first time stretchable electronics have been applied to a surgical process known as cardiac ablation, a milestone that could lead to simpler surgeries for arrhythmia and other heart conditions.

Paper-and-scissors technique rocks the nano world

November 14, 2012 4:20 pm | News | Comments

Sometimes simplicity is best. Two Northwestern University researchers have discovered a remarkably easy way to make nanofluidic devices: using paper and scissors. And they can cut a device into any shape and size they want, adding to the method's versatility.

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Researchers create laser the size of a virus particle

November 6, 2012 9:54 am | News | Comments

A Northwestern University research team has found a way to manufacture single laser devices that are the size of a virus particle and that operate at room temperature. These plasmonic nanolasers could be readily integrated into silicon-based photonic devices, all-optical circuits, and nanoscale biosensors.

Researchers make strides toward selective oxidation catalysts

November 5, 2012 11:45 am | News | Comments

Oxide catalysts play an integral role in many chemical transformations. Greener, more efficient chemical processes would benefit greatly from solid oxide catalysts that are choosier about their reactants, but achieving this has prove a challenge. Now, a team of researchers have developed a straightforward and generalizable process for making reactant-selective oxide catalysts by encapsulating the particles in a sieve-like film that blocks unwanted reactants.

Study reveals impact of public DNS services

October 26, 2012 9:31 am | News | Comments

A new study by Northwestern University researchers has revealed that public domain name services (DNS) could actually slow down users’ web-surfing experience. As a result, researchers have developed a solution to help avoid such an impact: a tool called “namehelp” that could speed web performance by 40%.

Scientists discover that shape matters in DNA nanoparticle therapy

October 12, 2012 10:03 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Johns Hopkins and Northwestern universities have discovered how to control the shape of nanoparticles that move DNA through the body and have shown that the shapes of these carriers may make a big difference in how well they work in treating cancer and other diseases. The technique is noteworthy because it does not use a virus to carry DNA into cells.

Thermoelectric material is world's best at converting heat waste to electricity

September 19, 2012 10:21 am | News | Comments

Northwestern University scientists have developed a thermoelectric material that is, according to the university, the best in the world at converting waste heat to electricity, which is good news once one realizes nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat. The material could signify a paradigm shift.

New nanoparticle system finds mercury in water, fish

September 13, 2012 4:33 am | by Erin White | News | Comments

The system currently being used to test for mercury and its very toxic derivative, methyl mercury, is time-intensive, costly, and can only detect quantities at already toxic levels. Researchers at Northwestern University and in Switzerland have invented a device consisting of a strip of glass with a nanoparticle film attached that can detect heavy metals in quantities more than a million times smaller than is currently possible.

Researchers set world record for highest surface area material

September 10, 2012 5:35 am | News | Comments

Northwestern University researchers have broken a world record by creating two new synthetic materials with the greatest amount of surface areas reported to date. Named NU-109 and NU-110, the materials belong to a class of crystalline nanostructure known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that are promising vessels for natural gas storage for vehicles, catalysts, and other sustainable materials chemistry.

Nano-velcro clasps heavy metal molecules in its grips

September 10, 2012 5:31 am | News | Comments

Mercury, when dumped in lakes and rivers, accumulates in fish, and often ends up on our plates. A Swiss-American team of researchers has devised a simple, inexpensive system based on nanoparticles, a kind of nano-velcro, to detect and trap this toxic pollutant as well as others. The particles are covered with tiny hairs that can grab onto toxic heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium.

Researchers develop simplified approach for high-power, single-mode lasers

August 24, 2012 10:12 am | News | Comments

When it comes to applications like standoff sensing the laser's strength is of the utmost importance. A stronger and purer beam means devices can sense danger more accurately from a greater distance, which translates into safer workers, soldiers, and police officers. Northwestern University researchers have developed a new resonator that creates the purest, brightest, and most powerful single-mode quantum cascade lasers yet at the 8 to 12 micron range.

Scientists create chemical “brain”

August 23, 2012 4:45 am | News | Comments

Northwestern University scientists have connected 250 years of organic chemical knowledge into one giant computer network—a chemical Google on steroids. A decade in the making, the software optimizes syntheses of drug molecules and other important compounds and combines long (and expensive) syntheses of compounds into shorter and more economical routes.

New crystalline material could bring down of cost of electronics, computers

August 23, 2012 4:06 am | by Megan Fellman | News | Comments

A team of organic chemists have discovered they can create very long crystals with desirable properties using just two small organic molecules that are extremely attracted to each other. The attraction between the two molecules causes them to self assemble into an ordered network, and, most importantly, they possess the ferroelectric properties that are useful in computing.

Toward achieving 1 million times increase in computing efficiency

July 10, 2012 10:15 am | News | Comments

Northwestern University researchers have created an entirely new family of logic circuits based on magnetic semiconductor devices. The advance could lead to logic circuits up to 1 million times more power-efficient than today's.

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