An interdisciplinary team of University of Pennsylvania researchers has already developed a technique for controlling liquid crystals by means of physical templates and elastic energy, rather than the electromagnetic fields that manipulate them in televisions and computer monitors. They envision using this technique to direct the assembly of other materials, such as nanoparticles.
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.
Water pours into a cup at about the same rate regardless of whether the water bottle is made of glass or plastic. But at nanometer-size scales, material type does make a significant difference. A new study shows that in nanoscopic channels, the effective viscosity of water in channels made of glass can be twice as high as water in plastic channels, potentially affecting a variety of research approaches.
Though nanosatellites already borrow several components, including cameras and radios, from terrestrial gadgets, propulsion systems have to be built from scratch. Researchers are working on electrospray ionic liquid “rockets”, but the microscopic needles they require are difficult and tedious to make. A researcher has found a way to let nature do the work, simplifying the fabrication process.
Liquid crystals are composed of long, thin, rod-like molecules which align themselves so they all point in the same direction. By controlling the alignment of these molecules, scientists can literally tie them in a knot. Researchers in the U.K. have done just this, tying knots in liquid crystals using a miniature Möbius strip made from silica particles.
The evolution of fluid drops deposited on solid substrates has been a focus of large research effort for decades, and most recently it has focused on nanoscale properties. Two New Jersey Institute of Technology researchers are the first to demonstrate that simulations based on continuum fluid mechanics can explain the nanoscale dynamics of liquid metal particles on a substrate.
Scientists in France and China have embedded dye molecules in a liquid crystal matrix to throttle the group velocity of light back to less than one billionth of its top speed. The team says the ability to slow light in this manner may one day lead to new technologies in remote sensing and measurement science.
Engineers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley have built a device that could speed up medical imaging without breaking the bank. The key ingredient? An engine lubricant called molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, which has been sold in auto parts shops for decades.
A new transparent, bio-inspired coating makes ordinary glass tough, self-cleaning and incredibly slippery, a team from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. reported. The new coating could be used to create durable, scratch-resistant lenses for eyeglasses, self-cleaning windows, improved solar panels and new medical diagnostic devices.
To save material and resources, scientists are trying to reduce their experiments to increasingly smaller sizes and scales. But micrometer-sized droplets evaporate very quickly, making the smooth handling of a micro experiment difficult. Researchers in Switzerland have address this difficulty by making use of a process they developed for 3D printing electronic parts to control and stabilize tiny droplets.
Drug designers now have a new way of designing drug candidates suitable for dislodging unstable water molecules. Previous research treated water as a continuum medium even at interfaces. Researchers in Argentina have built a discrete model that describes water molecules’ partial confinement on the protein’s surface. The area where water is most easily dislodged could be a candidate for drug target research.
In an attempt to explain the wavelike behavior of quantum particles, the French physicist Louis de Broglie proposed what he called a “pilot wave” theory. Once abandoned as a concept, a real pilot-wave system has recently been discovered, allowing researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to produce the fluidic analogue of a classic quantum experiment that offers a new perspective on wave-particle duality.
A superfluid, like liquid helium, moves like a completely frictionless liquid. Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have applied a method called holographic duality to mathematically describe the complex behavior of superfluids—in particular, the turbulent flows within superfluids. Their approach, which generated a model similar to the behavior of cigarette smoke, involved translating the physics of black holes.
The principle of proton conduction in water has been known for 200 years and is named after its discoverer, Theodor Grotthuss. Using theoretical calculations, researchers have now been able to analyze this mechanism in more detail and have shown that the currently accepted picture of proton diffusion, which has been compared to a “bucket line”, may need to be revised.
People have observed the unusual behavior of water since ancient times, and many recent discoveries about water have been predicted more than one hundred years prior. But now technology is allowing us to harness those properties. Engineers are now designing practical materials that offer an affinity (hydrophilic) or repulsion to water (hydrophobic).
A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has carried out the first systematic investigation of the factors that control boiling heat transfer from a surface to a liquid. This process is crucial to the efficiency of power plants and the cooling of high-power electronics, and could even lead to improvements in how vehicles travel through water.
A device that can instantly identify unknown liquids based on their surface tension has been selected to receive the 2013 R&D 100 Award—known as “the Oscar of Innovation”—from R&D Magazine. Invented by a team of materials scientists and applied physicists, the “Watermark Ink” (W-INK) device offers a cheap, fast and portable way to perform quality control tests and detect liquid contaminants.
Researchers have developed 3-D printing technology and techniques to create free-standing structures made of liquid metal at room temperature. The researchers developed multiple techniques for creating these structures, which can be used to connect electronic components in three dimensions. While it is relatively straightforward to pattern the metal “in plane", these liquid metal structures can also form shapes that reach up or down.
A liquid metal alloy, if cooled slowly, will eventually form a solid phase. Before it solidifies, however, the liquid undergoes a liquid-liquid transition to a phase in which it has the same concentration but a more strongly ordered structure. This structure, called, a supercooled liquid, has now been examined by materials scientists using x-rays.
Researchers have found a way to drive water droplets along a flat surface without applying heat, chemicals, electricity or other forces: All that’s required is varying the stiffness of the surface in the desired direction. The droplets, it turns out, prefer the soft spots.
Univ. of Alberta researchers have shown that a simple glass surface can be made to repel oil underwater. This has huge implications for development of a chemical repellent technology for use in cleaning up oil spills. At the time of spills, marine flora and fauna may come into contact with the oil, wreaking major damage. Underwater oil-repellent technology can potentially prevent the toxic effect of oil on marine ecosystems.
Colloidal solutions are made up of large particles, dispersed in a liquid solvent, that achieve stable structural arrangements through various types of self-assembly. But what about self-assembly of two—or more—species of different colloids? Scientists showed that when the interactions between the particles of two different DNA-coated colloids are carefully designed, they result in the formation of new structures.
A new study by researchers at Univ. of California, Santa Barbara provides clues into the understanding of the behavior of the charged molecules or particles in ionic liquids. The new framework may lead to the creation of cleaner, more sustainable and nontoxic batteries, and other sources of chemical power.
Ever been to a whispering gallery—a quiet, circular space underneath an old cathedral dome that captures and amplifies sounds as quiet as a whisper? Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Michigan are applying similar principles in the development optomechanical sensors that will help unlock vibrational secrets of chemical and biological samples at the nanoscale.
Researchers from Northeastern University are among the many scientists helping NASA use the weightlessness of space to design stronger materials here on Earth. Researchers say by observing the solidification process in a microgravity environment—in this case, the International Space Station—they were able to study how this morphological instability develops in three dimensions to shape the structure of materials on a micron scale.