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New study helps reveal how friction works at the nanoscale

November 8, 2012 12:13 pm | News | Comments

Recent work by scientists in Italy provides a new tool to better understand how sliding friction works in nanotribology, through colloidal crystals. By theoretically studying these systems of charged microparticles, researchers are able to analyze friction forces through molecular dynamics simulations with accuracy never experienced before.

Autoclave aerated concrete: Building material for new millenium?

November 8, 2012 11:34 am | News | Comments

Although widespread rebuilding in the hard-hit New York metro region from Super Storm Sandy has not yet begun, New Jersey Institute of Technology professor Mohamed Mahgoub says when the hammers start swinging, it's time to look at autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC). A combination of finely ground sand, cement, quick lime, gypsum, aluminum, and water, AAC offers light weight, strength, and environmental friendliness, but has yet to catch on widely in the U.S.

Capturing carbon with clever trapdoors

November 8, 2012 11:22 am | News | Comments

One method of capturing carbon dioxide is through molecular sieve that is an ultra-fine filter system that captures a variety of molecules that need further filtering. Engineers in Australia have developed new sieve that allows only carbon dioxide molecules to be trapped and stored, helping to eliminate the cost and energy typically required for filtering.

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Engineers build ultrasensitive photon hunter

November 8, 2012 9:50 am | News | Comments

When it comes to imaging, every single photon counts if there is barely any available light. This is the point where the latest technologies often reach their limits. Researchers have now developed a single photon avalanche photodiode that can read individual photons in just a few picoseconds. The speed allows the image sensor to capture high quality images with very low light levels.

Millimeter-wave oscillation possible in ferromagnetic nanocontact device

November 8, 2012 8:47 am | News | Comments

Conventional giant magnetoresistive devices or ferromagnetic tunnel junction devices provide only low frequency oscillation and have been deemed unsuitable for applications requiring millimeter-wave (30-300 GHz) oscillation, including radar. Researchers in Japan have recently demonstrated, however, that oscillations of 5 to 140 GHz is theoretically possible in these devices by supplying direct current.

Stronger than a speeding bullet

November 7, 2012 3:13 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

New tests of nanostructured material developed by scientists at Rice University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology could lead to better armor against everything from gunfire to micrometeorites. The key, they found, was to use composites made of two or more materials whose stiffness and flexibility are structured in very specific ways—such as in alternating layers just a few nanometers thick.

Butterfly wings inspire new high-tech surfaces

November 7, 2012 2:33 pm | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State University | News | Comments

After carefully studying the structure of butterfly wings and rice leaves, Ohio State University engineers designed a coated plastic surface resembling a butterfly wing’s texture. Butterflies in the wild need to have bright, clean wings for reproduction and flying, and the surface created by engineers was reportedly easier to keep free of dust particles than a flat surface. The finding could inform designs for a variety of surfaces in various industries.

Coming soon: Tabletop molecular movies

November 7, 2012 2:07 pm | News | Comments

One of the most urgently sought-after goals in modern science is the ability to observe the detailed dynamics of chemical reactions as they happen—that is, on the spatial scale of molecules, atoms, and electrons, and on the time scale of picoseconds or even shorter. A team of scientists at NIST has devised and demonstrated a highly unusual, compact, and relatively inexpensive x-ray source for an imaging system that may soon be employed to produce the kind of “molecular movies” that scientists and engineers need.

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The first controllable atom SQUID

November 7, 2012 9:43 am | News | Comments

Scientists at NIST have created the first controllable atomic circuit that functions analogously to a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) and allows operators to select a particular quantum state of the system at will. By manipulating atoms in a superfluid ring thinner than a human hair the investigators were able for the first time to measure rotation-induced discrete quantized changes in the atoms’ state, thereby providing a proof-of-principle design for an “atomtronic” inertial sensor.

Power supply for sensors created with a printer

November 7, 2012 9:13 am | News | Comments

Wireless sensor networks monitor machinery and equipment in factories, cars and power stations. They increasingly “harvest” the energy they need to transmit measurement data from the environment, thus making them self-sufficient. At the Electronica 2012 trade fair, researchers will present a printed thermogenerator, which they say will be able to generate energy supply for sensors through temperature differences.

New type of gel allows scientists to control its properties at will

November 6, 2012 11:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Switzerland have just published research on how to combine two gels in such a way that they can monitor and change, almost at will, the transparency, electrical properties, and stiffness of the material. Called a “bigel”, the unique material was built by combining DNA fragments with nanoparticles.

A step toward stronger polymers

November 6, 2012 8:56 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed, for the first time, a way to measure how many loops are present in a given polymer network, an advance they believe is the first step toward creating better materials that don't contain weak spots.

Vortex beams produce electron microscopy with a twist

November 5, 2012 3:55 pm | News | Comments

In a tornado, the individual air particles do not necessarily rotate on their own axis, but the air suction overall creates a powerful rotation. Similar vortex beams are being used in electron microscopy to allow researchers to determine the angular momentum of materials under examination. This ability provides valuable information about a material’s magnetic field. Researchers in Austria have recently produced particularly intense vortex beams.

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High-strength material advancements may lead to life-saving steel

November 5, 2012 12:45 pm | News | Comments

A group of researchers at Wayne State University have been working to create advanced materials with high-yield strength, fracture toughness and ductility. Their efforts have led to the development of a new material consisting of bainitic steels and austempered ductile iron that has all these characteristics, ultimately resisting fatigue that can cause fractures in materials often with catastrophic consequences.

World record set for entanglement of twisted light quanta

November 5, 2012 10:26 am | News | Comments

After developing a new method for entangling single photons which gyrate in opposite directions, a research team in Austria reached a new milestone in quantum physics. The scientists were able to generate and measure the entanglement of the largest quantum numbers to date. This result is a first step towards entangling and twisting even macroscopic, spatially separated objects in two different directions.

Team boosts silicon-based batteries

November 5, 2012 9:24 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University have refined silicon-based lithium-ion technology by literally crushing their previous work to make a high-capacity, long-lived, and low-cost anode material with serious commercial potential for rechargeable lithium batteries.

Complex composite study to use MSC Nastran, Marc sim tools

October 30, 2012 4:37 pm | News | Comments

MSC Software Corporation this week announced that Stanford University is using its MSC Nastran and Marc simulation tools to conduct a new study on the testing and analysis of complex composite materials. The goals of the study are to reduce extensive and expensive testing programs, optimize the design of testing configurations and redefine structural deformation and failure processes.

Breakthrough produces dense carbon nanotube chip

October 30, 2012 2:29 pm | News | Comments

At IBM, scientists have for the first time precisely placed and tested more than 10,000 carbon nanotube devices in a single chip using mainstream manufacturing processes. Achieved through conventional chemistry, materials, and wafer fabrication methods, the invention helps validate the used of carbon nanotube technology for future electronic circuit design.

Cocktail achieves superconducting boost

October 30, 2012 1:59 pm | News | Comments

Scientists have recently developed a high-performance superconducting material by mixing iron and selenium in a new chemistry. Although this class of superconductors has already existed, the new material is the first to break the 44 Kelvin barrier. It also shows that iron-selenium superconductors can be successfully synthesized to a high degree of purity.

The hunt for electron holes: A molecular glance on solar water splitting

October 30, 2012 1:18 pm | News | Comments

Hydrogen production by solar water splitting in photoelectrochemical cells (PEC) has long been considered the holy grail of sustainable energy research. Iron oxide is a promising electrode material, and now an international team of researchers gained in-depth insights into the electronic structure of an iron oxide electrode, while it was in operation. This opens up new possibilities for an affordable hydrogen production from solar energy.

Carbon nanotube films show promise for touchscreens

October 29, 2012 10:44 am | by Mike Williams, Rice University | News | Comments

A Rice University team has hit upon a method to produce nearly transparent films of electrically conductive carbon nanotubes. Slides dipped into a solution of pure nanotubes in chlorosulfonic acid, the researchers found, left them with an even coat of nanotubes that, after further processing, had none of the disadvantages seen with other methods. The films may be suitable for flexible electronic displays and touchscreens.

Research on nanocrystals to move from lab to market

October 29, 2012 10:33 am | by Iqbal Pittalwala | News | Comments

The University of California, Riverside has granted an exclusive license to The Idea Zoo, Inc., to commercialize nanotechnology research developed in the lab of Yadong Yin, an associate professor of chemistry. The Idea Zoo was granted exclusive rights to seven patents that cover various aspects of advanced superparamagnetic colloidal nanocrystals. Specifically, the patents focus on magnetically tunable photonic crystals and the ability to commercialize them.

Fragile forests of nanotubes strengthened for MEMS applications

October 29, 2012 10:00 am | News | Comments

Conventional microelectromechanical systems tend to be made out of silicon-based materials familiar to the micro-electronics industry, but this ignores a suite of useful materials such as other semiconductors, ceramics, and metals. By using a variety of materials not commonly associated with MEMS technology, a team from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, has created stronger microstructures that can form precise, tall and narrow 3D shapes.

Glass, characterized with precision and efficiency

October 26, 2012 1:54 pm | News | Comments

Glass can possess a quite diverse array of characteristics, depending on what ingredients one uses to modify it. A new process developed at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany now makes the analysis of glass characteristics up to five times faster than previous methods, and uses only 20% of the material. This system consists of an oven and a CMOS camera that enables researchers to observe the glass during the entire heating process.

Study is first to observe oscillatory cracking behavior of materials

October 25, 2012 3:08 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

"Avalanches"—the crackling behavior of materials under slowly increasing stress, like crumpling paper or earthquakes—may have a novel facet previously unknown, say Cornell University researchers. Their study employs both theory and experiment to describe never-before-seen oscillatory behavior of microcrystal plastic bursts at very small scales, under highly controlled conditions.

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