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Sensors from a spray can: Organic materials increase camera sensitivity

January 23, 2013 5:41 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Germany have developed a new generation of image sensors that are more sensitive to light than the conventional silicon versions. Simple and cheap to produce, they consist of electrically conductive plastics which are sprayed onto the sensor surface in an ultra-thin layer. The chemical composition of the polymer spray coating can be altered so that even the invisible range of the light spectrum can be captured.   

Self-assembling silica microwires may enable integrated optical devices

January 23, 2013 10:23 am | News | Comments

Silica microwires are the tiny and as-yet underutilized cousins of optical fibers. If precisely manufactured, however, these hair-like slivers of silica could enable applications and technology not currently possible with comparatively bulky optical fiber. By carefully controlling the shape of water droplets with an ultraviolet laser, a team of researchers from Australia and France has found a way to coax silica nanoparticles to self-assemble into much more highly uniform silica wires.

Bisphenol A substitute could spell trouble

January 23, 2013 8:35 am | News | Comments

In the same week that a team of researchers in France announced the harmful effects of bisphenol A (BPA) on hormone levels in human tissue, researchers in Texas have demonstrated through experiments that the BPA substitute bisphenol S also disrupts hormone activity at an extremely low level of exposure, and in an even more problematic way.

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Researchers create self-healing, stretchable wires using liquid metal

January 23, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed elastic, self-healing wires in which both the liquid-metal core and the polymer sheath reconnect at the molecular level after being severed.

Study: Harmful effects of bisphenol A proven

January 22, 2013 11:43 am | News | Comments

The compound bisphenol A, which is found in plastics and resins, has been under scrutiny as chemists attempt to determine whether it is a health hazard for humans. According to researchers in France, even weak concentrations of bisphenol A are sufficient to produce a negative reaction in human testicles, reducing the production of testosterone hormones.

Atomic layer deposition technique improves thermoelectric materials

January 22, 2013 9:49 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Aalto University School of Chemical Technology have applied atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique to the synthesis of thermoelectric materials. Converting waste energy into electricity, these materials are a promising means of producing energy cost-effectively and without carbon dioxide emissions in the future.

Nanosponge filters out herbicide poisons

January 21, 2013 8:19 am | News | Comments

New research has demonstrated the potential of a new kind of nanomaterial to filter out environmental toxins in water. A team of researchers has developed a highly porous metal organic framework (MOF) that, almost uniquely, is stable and able to filter substances in water. This study is one of the first to demonstrate MOFs separation applications in an aqueous environment.

Rare earth metals make water-repellent surfaces that last

January 21, 2013 8:01 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Water-shedding surfaces that are robust in harsh environments could have broad applications in many industries. Hydrophobic materials can greatly enhance the efficiency of this process. But these materials have one major problem: Most employ thin polymer coatings that degrade when heated, and can easily be destroyed by wear. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have now come up with a new class of hydrophobic ceramics that can overcome these problems.

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Quantitative magneto-mechanical made possible by the Barkhausen Effect

January 17, 2013 9:45 pm | News | Comments

The Barkhausen Effect is the noise in the magnetic output of a ferromagnet when the magnetizing force applied to it is changed. Almost 100 years after its initial discovery, a team of scientists in Alberta have harnessed this effect as a new kind of high-resolution microscopy for the insides of magnetic materials.

Self-assembled “soft Legos” create complex crystal shapes

January 17, 2013 12:24 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers in Austria has shown that so-called block copolymer stars—polymers that consist of two different blocks and are chemically anchored on a common point—have a robust and flexible architecture and they possess the ability to self-assemble at different levels. The team has called their invention, which can form complex crystal diamonds or cubes, the “soft Lego”.

RABiTS technology enables record-setting performance

January 17, 2013 7:57 am | News | Comments

A technology invented at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for manufacturing copper-oxide-based high-temperature superconducting materials has been used to make an iron-based superconducting wire capable of carrying very high electrical currents under exceptionally high magnetic fields.

New surfaces repel most known liquids

January 16, 2013 1:18 pm | News | Comments

In an advance toward stain-proof, spill-proof clothing, protective garments and other products that shrug off virtually every liquid—from blood and ketchup to concentrated acids—scientists are reporting development of new "superomniphobic" surfaces. These new surfaces display extreme repellency to two families of liquids: Newtonian and non-Newtonian.

Researchers develop integrated dual-mode active and passive infrared camera

January 16, 2013 1:14 pm | News | Comments

High-performance infrared cameras are usual for night-vision goggles and are usually either active, which use invisible infrared sources, or passive, which detect thermal radiation without the need for illumination. Integrating both modes has proven challenging, but researchers at Northwestern University have done by using advanced type-II superlattice materials.

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Researchers confirm intrinsic superconductor behavior

January 16, 2013 8:19 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

When it comes to high-temperature superconductors, a class of materials called cuprates is king, and it is science's ongoing quest to determine their exact physical subtleties. Cornell University physicists and materials scientists have now verified that cuprates respond differently when adding electrons versus removing them, resolving a central issue about the compounds' most fundamental properties.

New research gives insight into graphene grain boundaries

January 15, 2013 11:45 am | by Steve McGaughey, Beckman Institute | News | Comments

Making the one-atom thick sheets of carbon known as graphene in a way that could be easily integrated into mass production methods has proven difficult. Now, research from the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois is giving new insight into the electronics behavior of graphene. They have obtained information about electron scattering at graphene’s boundaries that shows it significantly limits the electronic performance compared to grain boundary free graphene.

New effort to create green electronics, workforce

January 15, 2013 10:18 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue University | News | Comments

The world's love affair with gadgets—many of which contain hazardous materials—is generating millions of tons of electronic waste annually. Now, Purdue and Tuskegee universities are leading an international effort to replace conventional electronics with more sustainable technologies and train a workforce of specialists to make the transition possible.

NRL designs multijunction solar cell to break efficiency barrier

January 14, 2013 10:42 am | News | Comments

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory scientists, in collaboration with the Imperial College London and MicroLink Devices Inc., have proposed a novel triple-junction solar cell with the potential to break the 50% conversion efficiency barrier, which is the current goal in multijunction photovoltaic development.

DOE launches rare earth metals research hub

January 11, 2013 10:37 am | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched a research hub that focuses on solutions to the domestic shortages of rare earth metals and other materials critical for U.S. energy security.

New material harvests energy from water vapor

January 10, 2013 2:50 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have created a new polymer film that can generate electricity by drawing on a ubiquitous source: water vapor. The new material changes its shape after absorbing tiny amounts of evaporated water, allowing it to repeatedly curl up and down. Harnessing this continuous motion could drive robotic limbs or generate enough electricity to power micro- and nanoelectronic devices, such as environmental sensors.

Mussels inspire innovative new adhesive for surgery

January 9, 2013 6:33 pm | News | Comments

Mussels can be a mouthwatering meal, but the chemistry that lets mussels stick to underwater surfaces may also provide a highly adhesive wound closure and more effective healing from surgery. Researchers have incorporated the chemical structure from the mussel's adhesive protein into the design of an injectable synthetic polymer. The bioadhesives adhere well in wet environments, have controlled degradability, and improved biocompatibility.

Review: Rational nanostructure design has improved photocatalysis

January 9, 2013 10:11 am | News | Comments

Modern advances in well controlled fabrication of metal nanoparticles and their composites have assisted material scientists in the design and efficient utilization of desired catalysts, as is evidenced by explosive growth in the nanocatalysis field. A new review published in Advanced Energy Materials highlights the progress of nanocatalysis through rational design.

Egg-cellent world-record battery performance

January 9, 2013 7:59 am | News | Comments

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University scientists have set a world record for energy storage, using a clever "yolk-shell" design to store five times more energy in the sulfur cathode of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery than is possible with today's commercial technology.

Stopping leaks the way blood does

January 8, 2013 2:00 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has analyzed the blood clotting process and found, for the first time, exactly how the different molecular components work together to block the flow of blood from a cut. Now, they are working on applying that knowledge to the development of synthetic materials that could be used to control different kinds of liquid flows, and could lead to a variety of new self-assembling materials.

A temperature below absolute zero

January 7, 2013 1:46 pm | News | Comments

According to the physical meaning of temperature, the temperature of a gas is determined by the chaotic movement of its particles. At zero kelvin (-273 C) the particles stop moving and all disorder disappears. Thus, nothing can be colder than absolute zero on the Kelvin scale. Nevertheless, researchers in Germany have now created an atomic gas in the laboratory that has negative Kelvin values.

Better than diamond

January 7, 2013 1:39 pm | by Gunnar Bartsch | News | Comments

Silicon carbide crystals consist of a regular lattice formed by silicon and carbon atoms. At present, these semiconductors are extensively used in micro and opto-electronics. Physicists have recently modified silicon carbide crystals in a way that these exhibit new and surprising properties. This makes them interesting with regard to the design of high-performance computers or data transmission.

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