A unique solar panel design made with a new ceramic material points the way to potentially providing sustainable power cheaper, more efficiently, and requiring less manufacturing time. It also reaches a four-decade-old goal of discovering a bulk photovoltaic material that can harness energy from visible and infrared light, not just ultraviolet light.
The blood stem cells that live in bone marrow are at the top of a complex family tree. Such stem...
Researchers from the Univ. of Pennsylvania and...
Electronic devices with touchscreens rely on transparent conductors made of indium tin oxide, or ITO. But cost and the physical limitations of this material are limiting progress in developing flexible touchscreens. A research collaboration between the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Duke Univ. is exploring the use of nanowires to replace ITO, and are using simulation tools to determine how they might work.
Nanoscientists who recently created beautiful, tiled patterns with flat nanocrystals faced a mystery: Why did crystals arrange themselves in an alternating, herringbone style, even though it wasn’t the simplest pattern? Help from computer simulations have given them a new tool for controlling how objects one-millionth the size of a grain of sand arrange themselves into useful materials.
Catalysts are everywhere. They make chemical reactions that normally occur at extremely high temperatures and pressures possible within factories, cars and the comparatively balmy conditions within the human body. Developing better catalysts, however, is mainly a hit-or-miss process. Now, researchers have shown a way to precisely design the active elements of a certain class of catalysts.
Catalysts are everywhere, but developing better catalysts is mainly a hit-or-miss process. Now, a study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Trieste, Italy, and Brookhaven National Laboratory has shown a way to precisely design the active elements of a certain class of catalysts, showing which parameters are most critical for improving performance.
Opioids are still the most effective class of painkillers, but they come with unwanted side effects. Designing new drugs of this type involves testing them on their corresponding receptors, but access to meaningful quantities of these receptors that work in experimental conditions has been a limiting factor. Now, researchers have developed a variant of the mu opioid receptor that has several advantages when it comes to experimentation.
Cartilage injuries have ended many athletes’ career, and the general wear-and-tear of the joint-cushioning tissue is something that almost everyone will endure as they age. Unfortunately, repairing cartilage remains difficult. Bioengineers are interested in finding innovative ways to grow new cartilage from a patient’s own stem cells. A new study from the Univ. of Pennsylvania brings such a treatment one step closer to reality.
The quintessential piece of origami might be a decorative paper crane, but in the hands of an interdisciplinary Univ. of Pennsylvania research team, it could lead to a drug-delivery device, an emergency shelter or even a space station. Collaborating with researchers at Cornell Univ., the Penn team will share in a $2 million, four-year grant from the NSF’s Div. of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation.
A team of University of Pennsylvania engineers has used a pattern of nanoantennas to develop a new way of turning infrared light into mechanical action, opening the door to more sensitive infrared cameras and more compact chemical analysis techniques.
Leading nanoscientists created beautiful, tiled patterns with flat nanocrystals, but they were left with a mystery: Why did some sets of crystals arrange themselves in an alternating, herringbone style? To find out, they turned to experts in computer simulation at the University of Michigan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The allure of personalized medicine has made new, more efficient ways of sequencing genes a top research priority. One promising technique involves reading DNA bases using changes in electrical current as they are threaded through a nanoscopic hole. Now, a team led by University of Pennsylvania physicists has used solid-state nanopores to differentiate single-stranded DNA molecules containing sequences of a single repeating base.
A dye-based imaging technique known as two-photon microscopy can produce pictures of active neural structures in much finer detail than functional magnetic resonance imaging, but it requires expensive femtosecond lasers to fluoresce existing dyes. A research team at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a new kind dye that fluoresces easily and produces quality images with far less powerful lasers.
A new study by a team of scientists defines previously unknown properties of transmitted HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS. The viruses that successfully pass from a chronically infected person to a new individual are both remarkably resistant to a powerful initial human immune-response mechanism, and they are blanketed in a greater amount of envelope protein that helps them access and enter host cells.
Certain semiconductors, when imparted with energy, in turn emit light; they directly produce photons, instead of producing heat. This phenomenon is commonplace and used in light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. Research from the University of Pennsylvania has enabled "bulk" silicon to emit broad-spectrum, visible light for the first time, opening the possibility of using the element in devices that have both electronic and photonic components.
Beyond serving as the backbone of modern biology, DNA has come to be a molecule of great interest to engineers. That a DNA sequence will naturally bind only with a complementary sequence could make it part of a configurable, and potentially programmable, building material. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have now used DNA to make a crystal that can switch into a more stable configuration under the right temperature conditions, much like heat-treated steel.
Wear is a fact of life. As surfaces rub against one another, they break down and lose their original shape. With less material to start with and functionality that often depends critically on shape and surface structure, wear affects nanoscale objects more strongly than it does their macroscale counterparts. Worse, the mechanisms behind wear processes aren't well understood for nanotech devices. Until now.
Last year, a team of University of Pennsylvania physicists showed how to undo the "coffee-ring effect," a commonplace occurrence when drops of liquid with suspended particles dry, leaving a ring-shaped stain at the drop's edges. Now the team is exploring how those particles stack up as they reach the drop's edge, and they discovered that different particles make smoother or rougher deposition profiles at the drop edge depending on their shape.
Directed assembly is a growing field of research in nanotechnology in which scientists and engineers aim to manufacture structures on the smallest scales without having to individually manipulate each component. Rather, they set out precisely defined starting conditions and let the physics and chemistry that govern those components do the rest. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has shown a new way to direct the assembly of liquid crystals.
The field of metamaterials involves augmenting materials with specially designed patterns, enabling those materials to manipulate electromagnetic waves and fields in previously impossible ways. Now, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have come up with a theory for moving this phenomenon onto the quantum scale, laying out blueprints for materials where electrons have nearly zero effective mass.
Electronic circuits are typically integrated in rigid silicon wafers, but flexibility opens up a wide range of applications. In a world where electronics are becoming more pervasive, flexibility is a highly desirable trait, but finding materials with the right mix of performance and manufacturing cost remains a challenge. Now a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that nanocrystals of the semiconductor cadmium selenide can be "printed" or "coated" on flexible plastics to form high-performance electronics.
One of the most promising innovations of nanotechnology has been the ability to perform rapid nanofabrication using nanoscale tips. The fabrication speed can be dramatically increased by using heat. High speed and high temperature have been known to degrade the tip, until now.
Making uniform coatings is a common engineering challenge, and, when working at the nanoscale, even the tiniest cracks or defects can be a big problem. New research from University of Pennsylvania engineers has shown a new way of avoiding such cracks when depositing thin films of nanoparticles based on spin-coating.
The colors of a butterfly's wings are unusually bright and beautiful and are the result of an unusual trait: The way they reflect light is fundamentally different from how color works most of the time. A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has found a way to generate this kind of "structural color" that has the added benefit of another trait of butterfly wings: superhydrophobicity, or the ability to strongly repel water.
Nearly 100 years after a British neurologist first mapped the blind spots caused by missile wounds to the brains of soldiers, University of Pennsylvania scientists have perfected his map using modern-day technology. Their results create a map of vision in the brain based upon an individual's brain structure, even for people who cannot see. Their result could, among other things, guide efforts to restore vision using a neural prosthesis that stimulates the surface of the brain.
Computers may be getting faster every year, but those advances in computer speed could be dwarfed if their 1s and 0s were represented by bursts of light, instead of electricity. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have made an important advance in this frontier of photonics, fashioning the first all-optical photonic switch out of cadmium sulfide nanowires.
Many robotic designs take nature as their muse: sticking to walls like geckos, swimming through water like tuna, sprinting across terrain like cheetahs. Such designs borrow properties from nature, using engineered materials and hardware to mimic animals' behavior. Now, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania are taking more than inspiration from nature—they're taking ingredients.
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