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The Lead

Chemists design quantum dot spectrometer

July 6, 2015 8:09 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Instruments that measure the properties of light, known as spectrometers, are widely used in physical, chemical and biological research. These devices are usually too large to be portable, but Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists have now shown they can create spectrometers small enough to fit inside a smartphone camera, using tiny semiconductor nanoparticles called quantum dots.

Using muons from cosmic rays to find fraying infrastructure

July 1, 2015 12:58 pm | by Laurel Hamers, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

In the United States, electricity comes with the flip of a switch and heat arrives with the push...

Graphene flexes its electronic muscles

June 30, 2015 8:47 am | by Mike Williams, Rice University | News | Comments

Flexing graphene may be the most basic way to control its electrical properties, according to...

Startup brings nonstick coating to consumer goods packaging

June 30, 2015 8:44 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The days of wasting condiments — and other products — that stick stubbornly to the sides of...

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The same plastic as in garbage bags makes an efficient heat exchanger in power plants by creating microchannels. Courtesy of Joshua Pearce

Better heat exchangers using garbage bags

June 29, 2015 10:21 am | by Michigan Technological University | News | Comments

The plastic used to make garbage bags also makes a good base for building low-temperature heat exchangers. Joshua Pearce's team helped design and make the plastic-based heat exchangers to be used in power plants. The key is expanded microchannel structures...

Eco-friendly oil spill solution developed

June 29, 2015 10:00 am | by City College of New York | News | Comments

City College of New York researchers led by chemist George John have developed an eco-friendly biodegradable green "herding" agent that can be used to clean up light crude oil spills on water. Derived from the plant-based small molecule phytol abundant in the marine environment, the new substance would potentially replace chemical herders currently in use.

Making a better semiconductor

June 29, 2015 8:44 am | by Michigan State University | News | Comments

Research led by Michigan State University could someday lead to the development of new and improved semiconductors. In a paper, scientists detailed how they developed a method to change the electronic properties of materials in a way that will more easily allow an electrical current to pass through.

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Helium “balloons” offer new path to control complex materials

June 26, 2015 2:00 pm | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to manipulate a wide range of materials and their behavior using only a handful of helium ions. The team’s technique advances the understanding and use of complex oxide materials that boast unusual properties such as superconductivity and colossal magnetoresistance but are notoriously difficult to control.

Making clothes out of gelatin could reduce agricultural waste

June 26, 2015 10:30 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

From gummy bears to silky mousses, gelatin is essential for making some of our favorite sweets. Now scientists are exploring another use for the common food ingredient: spinning it into yarn so it can be made into clothing. And because gelatin comes from livestock by-products, the new technique would provide an additional use for agricultural leftovers. The report appears in Biomacromolecules.

All-plastic solar cell could help power future flexible electronics

June 26, 2015 7:06 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

If you picture a solar panel, it’s most likely dark blue or black, and rigid and flat. Now imagine one that’s semi-transparent, ultra-thin and bendable. Scientists are closing in on making the latter version a reality. They report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces the development of a see-through, bendable solar cell made entirely out of plastic. The device could help power the coming wave of flexible electronics.

Sprayable foam slows bleeding

June 25, 2015 1:00 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Traumatic injuries, whether from serious car accidents, street violence or military combat, can lead to significant blood loss and death. But using a material derived from crustacean shells, scientists have now developed a foam that can be sprayed onto an open wound to stop the bleeding. They report their successful tests on pigs in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.

Pointing the way to crack-resistant metals

June 25, 2015 11:20 am | by Joe Kullman, Arizona State Univ. | News | Comments

Potential solutions to big problems continue to arise from research that is revealing how materials behave at the smallest scales. The results of a new study to understand the interactions of various metal alloys at the nanometer and atomic scales are likely to aid advances in methods of preventing the failure of systems critical to public and industrial infrastructure.

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New conductive ink for electronic apparel

June 25, 2015 10:45 am | by Univ. of Tokyo | News | Comments

Univ. of Tokyo researchers have developed a new ink that can be printed on textiles in a single step to form highly conductive and stretchable connections. This new functional ink will enable electronic apparel such as sportswear and underwear incorporating sensing devices for measuring a range of biological indicators such as heart rate and muscle contraction.

Nanostructure design enables pixels to produce two different colors

June 24, 2015 10:30 am | by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore | News | Comments

Through precise structural control, A*STAR researchers have encoded a single pixel with two distinct colors and have used this capability to generate a 3-D stereoscopic image. Figuring out how to include two types of information in the same area was an enticing challenge for the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering team.

Biomanufacturing of CdS quantum dots

June 24, 2015 8:05 am | by Jordan Reese, Lehigh Univ. | News | Comments

A team of Lehigh Univ. engineers have demonstrated a bacterial method for the low-cost, environmentally friendly synthesis of aqueous soluble quantum dot (QD) nanocrystals at room temperature. This is the first example of engineers harnessing nature's unique ability to achieve cost effective and scalable manufacturing of QDs using a bacterial process.

Physicists fine-tune control of agile exotic materials

June 24, 2015 7:50 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Physicists have found a way to control the length and strength of waves of atomic motion that have promising potential uses such as fine-scale imaging and the transmission of information within tight spaces. The researchers measured waves called polaritons that can emerge when light interacts with matter.

Nanowire implants offer remote-controlled drug delivery

June 24, 2015 7:30 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A team of researchers has created a new implantable drug-delivery system using nanowires that can be wirelessly controlled. The nanowires respond to an electromagnetic field generated by a separate device, which can be used to control the release of a preloaded drug. The system eliminates tubes and wires required by other implantable devices that can lead to infection and other complications.

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Can heat be controlled as waves?

June 23, 2015 3:30 pm | by John Toon, Georgia Tech | News | Comments

A growing interest in thermoelectric materials and pressure to improve heat transfer from increasingly powerful microelectronic devices have led to improved theoretical and experimental understanding of how heat is transported through nanometer-scale materials. Recent research has focused on the possibility of using interference effects in phonon waves to control heat transport in materials.

New process forms 3-D shapes from flat sheets of graphene

June 23, 2015 2:13 pm | by Rick Kubetz, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new approach for forming 3-D shapes from flat, 2-D sheets of graphene, paving the way for future integrated systems of graphene-MEMS hybrid devices and flexible electronics.

New formula to speed development of modern materials

June 23, 2015 8:10 am | by Jeannie Kever, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Houston have devised a new formula for calculating the maximum efficiency of thermoelectric materials, the first new formula in more than a half-century, designed to speed up the development of new materials suitable for practical use.

Sweeping lasers snap together nanoscale geometric grids

June 23, 2015 7:39 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Down at the nanoscale, where objects span just billionths of a meter, the size and shape of a material can often have surprising and powerful electronic and optical effects. Building larger materials that retain subtle nanoscale features is an ongoing challenge that shapes countless emerging technologies. Now, scientists have developed a new technique to create nanostructured grids for functional materials with unprecedented versatility.

Discovery paves way for new superconducting electronics

June 22, 2015 12:15 pm | by Kim McDonald, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Physicists have developed a new way to control the transport of electrical currents through high-temperature superconductors. Their achievement, detailed in two separate scientific publications, paves the way for the development of sophisticated electronic devices capable of allowing scientists or clinicians to non-invasively measure the tiny magnetic fields in the heart or brain, and improve satellite communications.

The secrets of secretion

June 22, 2015 11:45 am | by Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Anything you can do, nature can do better. Chemical delivery systems, self-healing cells, non-stick surfaces, nature perfected those long ago. Now, researchers at Harvard Univ. have hacked nature's blueprints to create a new technology that could have broad-reaching impact on drug delivery systems and self-healing and anti-fouling materials.

How owls could help make wind turbines, planes quieter

June 22, 2015 7:56 am | by Sarah Collins, Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

A newly designed material, which mimics the wing structure of owls, could help make wind turbines, computer fans and even planes much quieter. Early wind tunnel tests of the coating have shown a substantial reduction in noise without any noticeable effect on aerodynamics.

X-ray imaging reveals secrets in battery materials

June 19, 2015 8:47 am | by Liezel Labios, Univ. of California, San Diego | Videos | Comments

In a new study, researchers explain why one particular cathode material works well at high voltages, while most other cathodes do not. The insights, published in Science, could help battery developers design rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that operate at higher voltages.

Carbon nanoparticles you can make at home

June 18, 2015 1:55 pm | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers have found an easy way to produce carbon nanoparticles that are small enough to evade the body's immune system, reflect light in the near-infrared range for easy detection and carry payloads of pharmaceutical drugs to targeted tissues. Unlike other methods of making carbon nanoparticles, the new approach generates the particles in a few hours and uses only a handful of ingredients, including store-bought molasses.

A new look at surface chemistry

June 18, 2015 8:24 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

For the first time in the long and vaunted history of scanning electron microscopy, the unique atomic structure at the surface of a material has been resolved. This landmark in scientific imaging was made possible by a new analytic technique developed by a multi-institutional team of researchers.

Inkjet inks made of silk could yield smart bandages

June 17, 2015 9:24 am | by Kim Thurler, Tufts Univ. | News | Comments

Silk inks containing enzymes, antibiotics, antibodies, nanoparticles and growth factors could turn inkjet printing into a new, more effective tool for therapeutics, regenerative medicine and biosensing, according to new research led by Tufts Univ.  biomedical engineers and published in Advanced Materials.

Graphene heat-transfer riddle unraveled

June 17, 2015 8:50 am | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois Chicago | News | Comments

Researchers have solved the long-standing conundrum of how the boundary between grains of graphene affects heat conductivity in thin films of the miracle substance, bringing developers a step closer to engineering films at a scale useful for cooling microelectronic devices and hundreds of other nanotech applications.

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