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The Lead

Engineering phase changes in nanoparticle arrays

May 26, 2015 7:56 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have just taken a big step toward the goal of engineering dynamic nanomaterials whose structure and associated properties can be switched on demand. In a paper appearing in Nature Materials, they describe a way to selectively rearrange the nanoparticles in 3-D arrays to produce different configurations, or phases, from the same nanocomponents.

Slip sliding away

May 26, 2015 7:47 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have found a way to use tiny diamonds and graphene to...

Slinky lookalike “hyperlens” helps us see tiny objects

May 22, 2015 10:27 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

It looks like a Slinky suspended in motion. Yet this photonics advancement, called a...

Mission possible: This device will self-destruct when heated

May 21, 2015 3:06 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Videos | Comments

Where do electronics go when they die? Most devices are laid to eternal rest in landfills. But...

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Turn that defect upside down

May 21, 2015 11:01 am | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

Most people see defects as flaws. A few Michigan Technological Univ. researchers, however, see them as opportunities. Twin boundaries may present an opportunity to improve lithium-ion batteries. The twin boundary defects act as energy highways and could help get better performance out of the batteries. This finding turns a previously held notion of material defects on its head.

Gauging materials’ physical properties from video

May 21, 2015 10:42 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Last summer, MIT researchers published a paper describing an algorithm that can recover intelligible speech from the analysis of the minute vibrations of objects in video captured through soundproof glass. In June, researchers from the same groups will describe how the technique can be adapted to infer material properties of physical objects, such as stiffness and weight, from video.

New class of magnets could energize the world

May 21, 2015 10:30 am | by Temple Univ. | News | Comments

A new class of magnets that expand their volume when placed in a magnetic field and generate negligible amounts of wasteful heat during energy harvesting, has been discovered by researchers at Temple Univ. and the Univ. of Maryland. This transformative breakthrough has the potential to not only displace existing technologies but create altogether new applications due to the unusual combination of magnetic properties.

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Simulations predict flat liquid

May 21, 2015 10:11 am | by Academy of Finland | News | Comments

Computer simulations have predicted a new phase of matter: atomically thin 2-D liquid. This prediction pushes the boundaries of possible phases of materials further than ever before. Two-dimensional materials themselves were considered impossible until the discovery of graphene around 10 years ago.

Shape-shifting plastic

May 21, 2015 8:18 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Not all plastics are created equal. Malleable thermoplastics can be easily melted and reused in products such as food containers. Other plastics, called thermosets, are essentially stuck in their final form because of cross-linking chemical bonds that give them their strength for applications such as golf balls and car tires.

Defects can “Hulk-up” materials

May 21, 2015 8:09 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In the story of the Marvel Universe superhero known as the Hulk, exposure to gamma radiation transforms scientist Bruce Banner into a far more powerful version of himself. In a study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, exposure to alpha-particle radiation has been shown to transform certain thermoelectric materials into far more powerful versions of themselves.

How to make continuous rolls of graphene

May 21, 2015 7:30 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Graphene is a material with a host of potential applications, including in flexible light sources, solar panels that could be integrated into windows and membranes to desalinate and purify water. But all these possible uses face the same big hurdle: the need for a scalable and cost-effective method for continuous manufacturing of graphene films.

Bent and flexible surfaces of various materials, such as paper and plastic, can be provided with a coating to make them glow. Courtesy of S. Walter/Binder Group

New printing process makes three-dimensional objects glow

May 20, 2015 12:00 pm | by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Conventional electroluminescent (EL) foils can be bent up to a certain degree only and can be applied easily onto flat surfaces. The new process allows for the direct printing of electroluminescent layers onto three-dimensional components. Such EL components might be used to enhance safety in buildings in case of power failures. Other potential applications are displays and watches or the creative design of rooms.

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Printing 3-D graphene structures for tissue engineering

May 20, 2015 8:15 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Ever since single-layer graphene burst onto the science scene in 2004, the possibilities for the promising material have seemed nearly endless. With its high electrical conductivity, ability to store energy, and ultra-strong and lightweight structure, graphene has potential for many applications in electronics, energy, the environment and even medicine.

Taking control of light emission

May 20, 2015 7:31 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers have found a way to couple the properties of different 2-D materials to provide an exceptional degree of control over light waves. They say this has the potential to lead to new kinds of light detection, thermal management systems and high-resolution imaging devices.

These scanning electron microscope images show the graphene ink after it was deposited and dried (a) and after it was compressed (b). Compression makes the graphene nanoflakes more dense, which improves the electrical conductivity of the laminate. Courtes

Wearable wireless devices: Low cost radio frequency antenna printed with graphene ink

May 19, 2015 10:34 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Scientists have moved graphene—the incredibly strong and conductive single-atom-thick sheet of carbon—a significant step along the path from lab bench novelty to commercially viable material for new electronic applications. Researchers have printed a radio frequency antenna using compressed graphene ink.

Laser technique for self-assembly of nanostructures

May 19, 2015 8:38 am | by Swinburne Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers from Swinburne Univ. of Technology and the Univ. of Science and Technology of China have developed a low-cost technique that holds promise for a range of scientific and technological applications. They have combined laser printing and capillary force to build complex, self-assembling microstructures using a technique called laser printing capillary-assisted self-assembly (LPCS).

Wearables may get boost from boron-infused graphene

May 18, 2015 7:51 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

A microsupercapacitor designed by scientists at Rice Univ. that may find its way into personal and even wearable electronics is getting an upgrade. The laser-induced graphene device benefits greatly when boron becomes part of the mix. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour uses commercial lasers to create thin, flexible supercapacitors by burning patterns into common polymers.

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Researchers used state of the art UV cameras and electron microscopes to analyze the eruptive plumes and ash generated by Volcán de Colima in Mexico

Study attributes varying explosivity to gaseous state within volcanoes

May 15, 2015 12:01 pm | by Alan Williams, Plymouth University | News | Comments

The varying scale and force of certain volcanic eruptions are directly influenced by the distribution of gases within magma inside a volcano’s conduit, according to a new study. Using state-of-the-art equipment, including UV cameras and electron microscopes, researchers led a project to analyze the eruptive plumes and ash generated by Volcán de Colima, the most active volcano in the Americas.

Nano-transistor assesses your health via sweat

May 15, 2015 9:23 am | by EPFL | News | Comments

Made from state-of-the-art silicon transistors, an ultra-low power sensor enables real-time scanning of the contents of liquids, such as perspiration. Compatible with advanced electronics, this technology boasts exceptional accuracy – enough to manufacture mobile sensors that monitor health.

First large-scale graphene fabrication

May 14, 2015 4:32 pm | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

One of the barriers to using graphene at a commercial scale could be overcome using a method demonstrated by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Graphene, a material stronger and stiffer than carbon fiber, has enormous commercial potential but has been impractical to employ on a large scale, with researchers limited to using small flakes of the material.

CLAIRE brings electron microscopy to soft materials

May 14, 2015 12:37 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Soft matter encompasses a broad swath of materials, including liquids, polymers, gels, foam and biomolecules. At the heart of soft materials, governing their overall properties and capabilities, are the interactions of nano-sized components. Observing the dynamics behind these interactions is critical to understanding key biological processes.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

May 14, 2015 8:09 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and various industries could play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. But current materials that can collect carbon dioxide have low capacities or require very high temperatures to work. Scientists are making progress toward a more efficient alternative, described in Chemistry of Materials, that could help make carbon capture less energy-intensive.

New shortcut to solar cells

May 13, 2015 4:38 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have found a way to simplify the manufacture of solar cells by using the top electrode as the catalyst that turns plain silicon into valuable black silicon. Black silicon is silicon with a highly textured surface of nanoscale spikes or pores that are smaller than the wavelength of light. The texture allows the efficient collection of light from any angle, at any time of day.

Nanomaterials inspired by bird feathers

May 13, 2015 12:24 pm | by Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Inspired by the way iridescent bird feathers play with light, scientists have created thin films of material in a wide range of pure colors with hues determined by physical structure rather than pigments. Structural color arises from the interaction of light with materials that have patterns on a minute scale, which bend and reflect light to amplify some wavelengths and dampen others.

Nano-policing pollution

May 13, 2015 11:27 am | by Kaoru Natori, OIST | News | Comments

Pollutants emitted by factories and car exhausts affect humans who breathe in these harmful gases and also aggravate climate change up in the atmosphere. Being able to detect such emissions is a critically needed measure. New research has developed an efficient way to improve methods for detecting polluting emissions using a sensor at the nanoscale.

Artificial photosynthesis: New, stable photocathode with potential

May 13, 2015 9:14 am | by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin | News | Comments

Many of us are familiar with electrolytic splitting of water from their school days: If you hold two electrodes into an aqueous electrolyte and apply a sufficient voltage, gas bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen are formed. If this voltage is generated by sunlight in a solar cell, then you could store solar energy by generating hydrogen gas. This is because hydrogen is a versatile medium of storing and using "chemical energy".

A new way to manufacture nanofibers

May 13, 2015 8:51 am | by James Hataway, Univ. of Georgia | Videos | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have developed an inexpensive way to manufacture extraordinarily thin polymer strings commonly known as nanofibers. These polymers can be made from natural materials like proteins or from human-made substances to make plastic, rubber or fiber, including biodegradable materials.

Materials crystallize with surprising properties

May 13, 2015 8:20 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

Think about your favorite toys as a child. Did they light up or make funny noises when you touched them? Maybe they changed shape or texture. In ACS Central Science, researchers report a new material that combines many of these characteristics. Beyond being fun, these materials, called organic “supercooled” liquids, may be useful for optical storage systems and biomedical sensors.

A metal composite that will float your boat

May 13, 2015 7:50 am | by Kathleen Hamilton, New York Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a new metal matrix composite that is so light that it can float on water. A boat made of such lightweight composites will not sink despite damage to its structure. The new material also promises to improve automotive fuel economy because it combines light weight with heat resistance.

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