Stanford Univ. researchers have developed an inexpensive device that uses light to split water into oxygen and clean-burning hydrogen. The goal is to supplement solar cells with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that can generate electricity when the sun isn't shining or demand is high.
Scientists in Japan have recently shown that structural control of small magnetic vortex structures called skyrmions could lead to a compact, low-power alternative to conventional magnetic data storage. Skyrmions occur rarely in certain magnetic compounds, but after it was discovered that they can exist near room temperature and can be manipulated with little current, research interest has grown.
Researchers have created tiny holograms using a metasurface capable of the ultra-efficient control of light, representing a potential new technology for advanced sensors, high-resolution displays and information processing. The metasurface, thousands of V-shaped nanoantennas formed into an ultra-thin gold foil, could make possible optical switches small enough to be integrated into computer chips for information processing.
When you squeeze atoms, you don’t get atom juice. You get magnets. According to a new theory by Rice Univ. scientists, imperfections in certain 2-D materials create the conditions by which nanoscale magnetic fields arise. Calculations by the laboratory of Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson show these imperfections, called grain boundaries, in 2-D semiconducting materials known as dichalcogenides can be magnetic.
The phonon, like the photon or electron, is a physical particle that travels like waves, representing mechanical vibration. Phonons transmit everyday sound and heat. Recent progress in phononics by a research scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology has led to the development of new ideas and devices that are using phononic properties to control sound and heat, even to the point of freeing bustling city blocks from the noise of traffic.
Superfluidity refers to a state in which matter behaves like a liquid with zero viscosity. With a few exceptions, superfluidity has generally been regarded as a macroscopic phenomenon, resulting from “bulky” collections of particles rather than individual atoms. Scientists in Switzerland have now provided the first experimental evidence of superfluidity at the nanoscale, shedding light on the fundamental basis of the phenomenon.
A new device capable of pumping human waste into the “engine room” of a self-sustaining robot has been created by a group of researchers from Bristol. Modeled on the human heart, the artificial device incorporates smart materials called shape memory alloys and could be used to deliver human urine to future generations of EcoBot—a robot that can function completely on its own by collecting waste and converting it into electricity.
Using the x-ray beams at the European Synchrotron Research Facility a research team has showed that the electrons absorbed and released by cerium dioxide nanoparticles during chemical reactions behave in a completely different way than previously thought. They show that the electrons are not bound to individual atoms but, like a cloud, distribute themselves over the whole nanoparticle, like an electron “sponge".
Commercially available as instrumentation designed for macro-size sampling, Raman spectroscopy drew interest for providing information similar but complementary to infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy for chemical identification. In addition to chemical fingerprinting, the technique could provide molecular backbone information, materials morphology, sensitivity to symmetric bonds and the ability to analyze inorganic samples and components.
Researchers from the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Drexel Univ. have experimentally demonstrated a new method for solar cell construction which may ultimately make them less expensive, easier to manufacture and more efficient at harvesting energy from the sun. The breakthrough, which is the result of five years of focused research, relies on specifically designed perovskite crystals that deliver a “bulk” photovoltaic effect.
A planned mission to return a sample from the Martian moon Phobos will likely be a twofer, according to a study by Brown Univ. geologists. The Russian mission launching in 2020, would return samples from Phobos that contain bits and pieces of Mars itself. The study calculates how much Martian material is on the surface of Phobos and how deep it is likely to go.
When an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, crews sprayed cooling seawater on the reactors, but to no avail. One possible reason: Droplets can’t land on surfaces that hot and instantly begin to evaporate, forming a thin layer of vapor and then bouncing along it. Now, MIT researchers have come up with a way to cool hot surfaces more effectively by keeping droplets from bouncing.
Researchers from the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) and the Republic of Korea's national metrology institute—the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS)—have recently developed a unique nanoscale measurement technique and used it to observe structural disorder in graphene that is fabricated on a silicon carbide substrate
The Toronto-based luxury bespoke tailoring house Garrison Bespoke launched the first fashion-forward bulletproof suit with a live ammo field-testing event at the Ajax Rod and Gun Club at in Ontario. The Garrison Bespoke bulletproof suit is made with carbon nanotubes created using nanotechnology and originally developed to protect U.S. forces in Iraq. The patented material is thinner, more flexible and 50% lighter than Kevlar.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne’s new convention center, opening in April 2014, is being equipped with a glass façade composed of dye solar cells. The project, a world’s first for an exterior window, leverages the potential of dye-sensitive solar cells known as Graetzel cells, which are indifferent to the angle of incidence of light that hits them.
We use aluminum to make planes lightweight, store sodas in recyclable containers, keep the walls of our homes energy efficient and ensure that the Thanksgiving turkey is cooked to perfection. Now, thanks to a group of Japanese researchers, there may soon be a new application for the versatile metal: hydrogen storage for fuel cells.
Researchers at NJIT have developed a flexible battery made with carbon nanotubes that could potentially power electronic devices with flexible displays. According to its developers, this battery can be made as small as a pinhead or as large as a carpet in a living room.
Univ. of Delaware materials scientists have successfully developed a compact, stretchable wire-shaped supercapacitor based on continuous carbon nanotube fibers. When subjected to a tensile strain of 100% over 10,000 charge/discharge cycles, the CNT supercapacitor’s electrochemical performance improved to 108%.
Researchers from the Univ. of Helsinki, FInland, have managed to draw in an alcohol-based solution using laser light. Light-sensitive polymers are not new, but a new soluble, photosensitive polymer can be dissolved partially by a 365-nm laser, allowing a ray of light can “draw” in an ethanol-based dispersion of the polymer.
A team of researchers has discovered a bacterium in hot springs which needs rare earth materials such as lanthanum, cerium or neodymium to grow. The bacteria need the valuable metals to produce energy as co-factor for the enzyme methanol dehydrogenase, with which the microbes produce their energy. The use of rare earths is possibly more widespread among bacteria than previously thought.
Belgian nanoelectronics research center Imec and JSR, a materials company based in Tokyo, Japan, announce that they have successfully used JSR’s innovative PA (Photo-patternable Adhesive) material for wafer-scale processing of lab-on-chip devices. Using this material, imec has processed microfluidic cell-sorter devices, merging microheaters and sensors with wafer-scale polymer microfluidics.
A new class of materials developed at the Univ. of Arkansas may influence the next generation of nanodevices, in which integrated circuits are composed of many layers of dissimilar materials. The researchers used innovative cross-sectional scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy to develop the first direct view of the physical and chemical behavior of electrons and atoms at boundary regions within the dissimilar materials.
A team of experimental and theoretical physicists from the Univ. of Stuttgart have developed a method to study the influence an electron has on atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate, which is a ultracold cloud of atoms at near absolute zero. This advance allows scientists to study the interactions between electrons and atoms without the technical challenge of “trapping” electrons individually.
Researchers in Basque country in Spain have developed and patented a new source of light emitter based on boron nitride nanotubes. Suitable for developing high-efficiency optoelectronic devices, the structural defects in the nanotubes help make it extremely efficient in ultraviolet light emission.
Until recently, the preparation of phosphor materials, key components in white LED lighting, was more an art than a science. It has been based on finding crystal structures that act as hosts to activator ions, which convert the higher-energy blue light to lower-energy yellow/orange light. By determining simple guidelines, researchers have recently made it possible to optimize phosphors allowing for brighter, more efficient lights.