A discovery at Rice Univ. aims to make vehicles that run on compressed natural gas more practical. It might also prolong the shelf life of bottled beer and soda. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour has enhanced a polymer material to make it far more impermeable to pressurized gas and far lighter than the metal in tanks now used to contain the gas.
The silk of a spider feared for its venomous bite could be the key to creating new super-sticky films and wafer-thin electronics and sensors for medical implants that are highly compatible with the human body. A team of scientists studied the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles recluse), which produces super-thin ribbons of silk as opposed to the round fibers typically spun by spiders.
Writing in Nature Communications, researchers at The Univ. of Manchester and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have demonstrated that membranes can be directly 'written' on to a graphene surface using a technique known as Lipid Dip-Pen Nanolithography (L-DPN).
Carbyne will be the strongest of a new class of microscopic materials if and when anyone can make it in bulk. If they do, they’ll find carbyne nanorods or nanoropes have a host of remarkable and useful properties, as described in a paper by Rice Univ. theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his group.
It was a result so unexpected that Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers initially thought it must be a mistake: Under certain conditions, putting a cracked piece of metal under tension has the reverse effect, causing the crack to close and its edges to fuse together. The surprising finding could lead to self-healing materials that repair incipient damage before it has a chance to spread.
To gauge whether suspects involved in accidents or routine traffic stops have been driving drunk, police officers pair field sobriety tests with breathalyzers. Most breathalyzers are expensive and unable to test for precise concentrations of alcohol. Offering a better solution, Italian researchers have developed a novel idea for an inexpensive, portable breathalyzer.
Using ultra-fast laser pulses, a team of researchers led by the Univ. of Arizona has made the first detailed observation of how energy travels through diamonds containing nitrogen-vacancy centers—promising candidates for a variety of technological advances such as quantum computing.
Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film. These findings have paved the way for entirely new possibilities to use in thin-film photovoltaics. Graphene has extreme conductivity and is completely transparent while being inexpensive and nontoxic.
A Binghamton Univ. scientist and his international colleagues report on the successful synthesis of the first superconductor designed entirely on the computer. The synthesized material, a novel iron tetraboride compound, is made out of two common elements, has a brand-new crystal structure and exhibits an unexpected type of superconductivity for a material that contains iron, just as predicted in the original computational study.
Univ. of Illinois researchers have developed a new approach with applications in materials development for energy capture and storage and for optoelectronic materials. According to Charles Schroeder, an asst. prof. in the Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, the results show that peptide precursor materials can be aligned and oriented during their assembly into polypeptides using tailored flows in microfluidic devices.
Rice Univ. scientists took a lesson from craftsmen of old to assemble microscopic compounds that warn of the presence of dangerous fumes from solvents. The researchers combined a common mineral, zeolite, with a metallic compound based on rhenium to make an “artificial nose” that can sniff out solvent gases.
For years scientists have been working to fundamentally understand how nanoparticles move throughout the human body. One big unanswered question is how the shape of nanoparticles affects their entry into cells. Now researchers have discovered that under typical culture conditions, mammalian cells prefer disc-shaped nanoparticles over those shaped like rods.
Atomically thin sheets of hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) have the handy benefit of protecting what’s underneath from oxidizing even at very high temperatures, Rice Univ. researchers have discovered. One or several layers of the material sometimes called “white graphene” keep materials from oxidizing up to 1,100 C (2,012 F), and can be made large enough for industrial applications, they said.
Researchers in Japan have developed a new photodiode that can detect in just milliseconds a certain type of high-energy ultraviolet light, called UVC, which is powerful enough to break the bonds of DNA and harm living creatures. The new device shows promise for space-based communication and monitoring ozone depletion.
When a tiny droplet of liquid tin is heated with a laser, plasma forms on the surface of the droplet and produces extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light, which has a higher frequency and greater energy than normal ultraviolet. Now, for the first time, researchers have mapped this EUV emission and developed a theoretical model that explains how the emission depends on the 3-D shape of the plasma.
Autumn is usually not such a great time for big special effects movies as the summer blockbusters have faded and those for the holiday season have not yet opened. Fall is more often the time for thoughtful films about small subjects, which makes it perfect for the unveiling of a new movie produced by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
In a new white paper from Carl Zeiss Microscopy, scientists from DME Nanotechnologie GmbH and Zeiss demonstrate the power of the AFM/SEM combination found in the Zeiss Merlin series microscopes for the analysis of helium ion beam exposed nanostructures.
To tune how much light is received by optics, conventional devices use mechanical contraptions like the blades that form apertures in cameras. Engineers from the Univ. of Freiburg in Germany have made these solutions unnecessary by replacing conventional, solid lenses with the combination of a malleable lens and a liquid iris-like component.
A research team that includes a physics prof. at Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. Indianapolis has recorded a drastically reduced measurement of the Casimir effect, a fundamental quantum phenomenon experienced between two neutral bodies that exist in a vacuum. The experiment used nanostructured metallic plates to suppress the force at a much lower rate than ever recorded previously.
In a completely unexpected finding, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have discovered that tiny water droplets that form on a superhydrophobic surface, and then “jump” away from that surface, carry an electric charge. The finding could lead to more efficient power plants and a new way of drawing power from the atmosphere, they say.
A new study has found that “waviness” in forests of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes dramatically reduces their stiffness, answering a long-standing question surrounding the tiny structures. Instead of being a detriment, the waviness may make the nanotube arrays more compliant and therefore useful as thermal interface material for conducting heat away from future high-powered integrated circuits.
An industry-academic partnership has created two different optical components that can be fabricated within the same processes already used in industry to create today’s electronic microprocessors. The modulators, which are structures that detect electrical signals and translate them into optical waves, use light instead of electrical wires to communicate with transistors on a single chip.
Pyrite, better known as “fool’s gold”, is a common, naturally occurring mineral. It holds promise as a high-tech material, but is also a byproduct of corrosion of steel in deep-sea oil and gas wells. Both its potential usefulness in devices and its role in corrosion are largely influenced by the fundamental electronic properties of its surface, which have remained relatively unexplored, until now.
A new toaster-sized 3-D printer, set for launch next year, is designed to greatly reduce the need for astronauts to load up with every tool, spare part or supply they might ever need. The printers would serve as a flying factory of infinite designs, creating objects by extruding layer upon layer of plastic from long strands coiled around large spools.
In an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine, researchers used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice.